Science

Are you ready to ride in a pilotless sky taxi?

04 Sep 2017 | By Anish Chakraborty
Riding an unmanned air taxi, yay or nay?

We all know at least one person around us, who has a fear of flying or "aviophobia" and that includes flying on a commercial airplane, which has a licensed pilot. Therefore, it shouldn't be hard to understand, why some people are petrified of riding a pilotless passenger-carrying sky taxi.

There are a lot of trust issues here.

Here's more about it.

In context: Riding an unmanned air taxi, yay or nay?

04 Sep 2017Are you ready to ride in a pilotless sky taxi?

DubaiAny day now

If everything goes according to the plan, Dubai will be the first one to put drone taxis in the air. Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) plans to start testing pilotless air taxis by the end of this year.

German start-up Volocopter is heading this project and plans on developing an 18-rotor aircraft, which would be capable of carrying two passengers.

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VolocopterIt's safe, at least that's what the video says

Volocopter's promotional video is quite upbeat. The start-up claims that its vehicle is capable of a top speed of 100km/h (60mph) and a flight time of approximately 30 minutes.

Volocopter assures consumers, saying, "You will never require" the onboard emergency parachute.

Dubai's RTA is not relying on Volocopter alone. It's also testing a single passenger "autonomous aerial vehicle" under its agreement with China's Ehang.

UberEverybody wants to fly

However, it's not only Dubai. Every big fish out there wants to have something to do with air-cabs.

There's Uber with its Project Elevate, Airbus, the French aircraft maker, with its prototype air taxi Vahana and a motley of other firms and start-ups.

As the streets are getting more and more clogged with traffic, sky seems to be the only logical way to go.

SafetyThere are concerns

There are still a lot of loose ends. The chief among them is safety. What happens if the entire contraption runs out of juice and decides to take a dive mid-flight? Well, it won't happen, because the failsafe mechanism probably won't allow it to take off if there's a flat battery.

However, what may happen are collisions due to poor management of the airspace.

ProblemThis is the real issue

Another major hiccup is setting up a proper regulatory framework. To do that, it'll need to earn the trust of people and get their approval.

People usually don't suffer from aviophobia because they know that there's a pilot present in the plane.

The fact, that it is secure but there is no human pilot on board, will take some time to sink in.