'Air taxi' tested in Dubai takes flight in Las Vegas

The two-seat Volocopter was previously flight tested over a Dubai beach in September
The self-piloting, electric, 18-rotor Volocopter is capable of carrying two passengers for up to 30-minutes.
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Thu 11 Jan 2018 09:51 AM

A flying ‘drone taxi’ tested in Dubai took flight at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, offering a glimpse into the future of aerial commuting.

The self-piloting, electric, 18-rotor Volocopter is capable of carrying two passengers for up to 30-minutes. On Wednesday, the vehicle was briefly flown at CES during a keynote address by Intel, which has partnered with the Germany-based Volocopter on the project.

The vehicle, which Volocopter says will eventually help ease commuter woes in traffic-congested cities around the world, was flight tested over Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Park in September, when it flew for five minutes before landing.

“Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contribute not only to the country’s development but also build bridges into the future,” His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Price of Dubai, said at the time.

According to Dubai officials, the vehicle will help the emirate achieve its aim of having 25 percent of local passenger trips take place in driverless vehicles.

In April 2017, Dubai was selected as one of the partner cities for Uber’s development of vertical take-off and landing vehicles (VTOLs) as the company works to develop a network of on-demand passenger flights that the company hopes will eventually cut down on traffic and slash commuting times.

A number of other companies are working on self-piloted passenger aircraft, including Airbus, which is working on the ‘Vahana’, a single-seat flying vehicle that the aircraft manufacturer is marketing as an air taxi, delivery drone and emergency vehicle. Flight-tests of a full-scale prototype are expected to begin in the United States this year.

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Last Updated: Thu 11 Jan 2018 09:47 AM GST

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