Dubai is looking to stand out as a high-tech hub in its region. A test flight of what is said to be the world’s first drone taxi service was conducted in the United Arab Emirates city on Monday. An unmanned craft, developed by German drone maker Volocopter, was successfully tested in a ceremony put on for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.
The Volocopter vehicle is a two-seat, eighteen-rotor vehicle, which takes off and lands vertically. The vehicle is meant to fly autonomously for up to 30 minutes, making it ideal for short-distance urban travel. The goal of the project is to grow into an Uber-like platform where users can pull out their phones and order a ride at the nearest “voloport.” The vehicle is equipped with a number of fail-safes in the event of something going wrong. Items like extra batteries, rotors, and parachutes ensure passenger safety.
In a press release from the government of Dubai’s media office, HH Sheikh Hamdan said, “This is another testament to our commitment to driving positive change. We are constantly exploring opportunities to serve the community and advance the prosperity and happiness of society.”
Flying vehicles have recently made a resurgence as a viable means of transportation in the future. Some truly big names like Larry Page’s (of Google fame) Kitty Hawk, and Uber’s own flying taxi plans are in the running to develop the first flying car options.