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Flying Taxis Take Off for the Future

A car flying over a traffic jam in Los Angeles.

The idea of flying cars has been a long-held dream. Designs and concepts have already been put on the table, but most prototypes look like a small vehicle. Now, with the rising popularity of flying cars, numerous companies are revolutionizing and expanding their horizons to flying taxis.

The aircraft we’re building doesn’t need a runway, it is self-piloted, and can automatically detect and avoid obstacles and other aircraft.

Drone Car companies from around the globe are grabbing the future rather than waiting for it. They are innovating flying cars and turning them into a point-to-point passenger vehicle service, also known as flying taxis. These companies are boldly changing urban transportation.

This bold move isn’t easy. There are many challenges like perfecting the design concepts and regulations that remain to be written. Despite these hindrances, flying taxis are already being developed and tested. Forward looking companies are betting that their prototypes will be flying in the next few years.

Airbus Races to Develop Flying Taxis

Airbus, an aerospace manufacturer in Europe, has developed Vahana. Started in early 2016, Vahana is a flying taxi that is electric and driverless. It promises to shorten travel times.

A3 is a new technology accelerator that was formed by Airbus in order to develop Vahana. Robin Lyasoff is the Chief Executive of A3. The prototype consists of a single seat, a lifting canopy, eight propellers, and wings. Vahana can drop off and pick up passengers without the need for a runway.

A taxi flying over the city, with a ride hailing app.

According to Airbus, “The aircraft we’re building doesn’t need a runway, it is self-piloted, and can automatically detect and avoid obstacles and other aircraft.”

Zach Lovering is the Project Executive for Vahana. He claims that the propellers are driven by electric motors. The vehicle has a range of about 31 miles and plans to start service around 2021.

The primary goal of Airbus is to establish an airborne ride-hailing service.

E-Volo Releases the Volocopter

E-Volo, a company located in Germany is the developer and designer of Volocopter. The vehicle is environmentally friendly and emission-free private helicopter model.

With the investment by Intel venture-capital arm, Volocopter consists of two seats, a joystick, and 18 rotors. It was tested in 2013. Like the Vahana, this vehicle does not require a runway to land or take off. Volocopter has a flight-time duration of 20 to 30 minutes.

Alexander Zosel, the CEO of E-Volo, said that “We’re assembling a new electronic flight-control system and a new battery system.” He plans to sell the Volocopters for about $340,000.

Urban Aeronautics & the Cormorant Flying Taxi

Urban Aeronautics Ltd, an Israeli company developed Cormorant. The vehicle was formerly known as AirMule. Cormorant is completely autonomous and has the ability to carry as much as 1,100 pounds up to 30 miles.

Cormorant aims to aid disaster relief events and respond to war zones where dangerous extractions are required. ZME Science mentioned that in December 2015, Urban Aeronautics placed Cormorant’s rotor inside instead of outside.

The vehicle is equipped with two laser altimeters, inertial sensors, a radar altimeter, and an electro-optic payload camera.

Janina Frankel-Yoeli, the Vice President for Marketing, said that “We started working on this long before everyone got into urban mobility.”

Because Urban Aeronautics does not want to be left behind when it comes to the more experimental field of flying vehicles, its subsidiary, Metro Skyways, jumped into the fray with CityHawk. The vehicle has four seats, is hydrogen-powered, and has the same design as the Cormorant.

Dubai’s EHANG 184

Dubai is all-in with flying cars thanks to the EHANG 184. They are pushing to have flying taxis in the skies as early as fall 2017.

The Roads and Transportation Authority in Dubai are already testing EHANG 184, a single-passenger autonomous drone, to carry passengers far above the city’s notorious traffic jams. EHANG, a Chinese drone-maker that is the leader when it comes to UAV technology innovation, is the developer.

EHANG 184 has the ability to travel 62 mph at a height of 984 feet. It has eight propellers and its recharge time is a scant two hours. The vehicle is designed to survive the punishing summer days and cold nights of Dubai.

The bold idea of flying taxis is considered by many companies to be a gold mine. How they will disrupt the transportation and even city planning, industries remains to be seen.

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