Designed by German company Volocopter and operated by Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA), the aircraft is the world’s first autonomous air taxi. The project is key to Dubai’s goal of becoming a beacon for smart tech advances.
During the prototype’s five-minute test flight on Monday, the driverless taxi drone hovered around 200 meters above the ground.
However, it’s not about to zip customers over the city just yet – the trial operation and certification process will take five years before it’s cleared to carry passengers.
Powered by electricity, the helicopter is equipped with 18 propellers, has a maximum airspeed of 100kph, a maximum flight time of approximately 30 minutes, and nine independent battery systems.
Dubai is already a tourist hub, attracting a record 14.9 million visitors last year, thanks in part to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and reputation for cutting-edge infrastructure.
In May, the world’s first robot policeman joined Dubai’s law enforcement ranks, the first of many autonomous cops projected to account for a quarter of the United Arab Emirates’ entire force by 2030.