Dubai-based Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has extended the test run of its autonomous air taxi (AAT) to meet all operational safety and security requirements.
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The extension to the testing follows the RTA’s announcement at the World Government Summit 2017 in Dubai in February 2017, where it said it was going to make airborne passenger drones available to the public in summer as part of a broader vision to transform Dubai into a global driverless mobility leader by 2030.
The RTA said Dubai will start trials of the flying cars in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the board of the RTA, said the test run of the first AAT capable of carrying two passengers is in implementation and comes as part of RTA’s efforts to provide autonomous transportation by conducting the required technological tests of those vehicles under the climatic conditions of Dubai.
He added out that because the air taxi is autonomous, it enables the movement of people from one place to another without human intervention or the need for a flight licence holder.
Al Tayer said the drones have many separate rotors in case of failure. “The AAT is powered by electricity and has high safety features, thanks to its design comprising 18 rotors to ensure safe cruising and landing of the taxi in case of any rotor failure,” he said.
In addition, the RTA announced an agreement with the German Volocopter company, a specialist in the manufacturing of autonomous aerial vehicles, to launch the first vehicle capable of carrying two passengers.
Al Tayer added that Volocopter was picked because of its adherence and compliance with the international safety and security standards and passing the rigorous standards set by the Germans Aviation Authority, which apply the highest safety and security in designing and operating aircrafts.
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“In the fourth quarter of this calendar year, the RTA will launch the trial run of the AAT, and the experimental phase is likely to continue,” said Tayer. “This will be followed with the issuance of the legislation required to operate such kind of vehicles for around five years.”
He said the official operation of airborne cars hinges on the readiness of companies and the availability of legislation necessary for operating autonomous aerial vehicles in Dubai.
“RTA is working with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority to develop the legislative and operational guidelines, define specifications and standards applicable to operators in the emirate so legislation will be ready before the date set for the commercial and official operation of the vehicles,” he said.
Separately, the RTA unveiled a new Enterprise Command and Control Centre (EC3). The EC3 facility is a unified facility which links all of the RTA’s different transport control centres, including roads and Metro, into an integrated central platform.
According to the RTA, the control centre has been established to provide city-wide management for Dubai transport, as part of Dubai’s smart city initiatives, and will also play an important role in managing transport for the upcoming Expo 2020.
The RTA said the EC3 is expected to reduce costs and improve services for all transport users, cut accidents and also reduce environmental pollution through better planning.