Dubai: Dubai’s aerial taxi service, the vertiport designs for which were approved on Sunday, has become the talk of the town as the high-profile World Government Summit gets underway in the emirate. But what exactly does the project entail?
The details of the aerial taxi service were revealed at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) stand at the World Government Summit pre-event after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, accompanied by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, approved its vertiport models. Here's what we know so far.
What is a vertiport?
As Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA, which is spearheading the project explained, vertiports are a form of infrastructure that encompasses a range of facilities such as designated take-off and landing zones, a passenger waiting area, security protocols and electric charging stations. These stations seamlessly integrate with other modes of transportation.
When will the aerial taxis be ready for use?
The aerial taxis will become operational in three years by 2026.
Who can use the aerial taxis?
The new service is aimed at easing the mobility of individuals across urban areas in a safe, smooth and sustainable manner integrated with the public transport network in Dubai.
Which areas will it connect?
The first Dubai aerial taxi vertiport will be located near the Dubai International Airport, with the initial network connecting four main areas of Dubai – Downtown Dubai (Burj Khalifa area), Dubai Marina, Dubai International Airport and Palm Jumeirah.
How will the flight paths be determined?
RTA is working closely with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, General Civil Aviation Authority and Dubai Air Navigation Services to create a one-of-a-kind comprehensive framework for the operation of such vehicles in Dubai. This includes the development of legislation and setting clear specifications and standards for vehicle operators. RTA, in collaboration with its strategic partners, will outline the flight paths for the vehicles, identify take-off and landing sites, and specify the necessary equipment for safe and efficient operations.
What are the special features of the aerial taxis?
The aerial taxis will be a “distinct and enjoyable mode of transportation” featuring air-conditioned facilities that meet top international safety standards for maximum convenience.
They possess the unique capability of vertical takeoff and landing and are sustainable, eco-friendly vehicles powered by electricity, emitting zero harmful pollutants to the environment. The taxis are also recognised for their safety, comfort and speed, featuring the latest technological advancements in the field from around the world.
How many passengers can they accommodate?
Each aerial taxi can accommodate four passengers plus a driver.
What is the speed of the aerial taxis?
They have a range of 241.4km and a top speed of 300km per hour.
How will the project be developed?
In two phases. In the first phase, manufacturers and operators will be chosen based on their technology and timeline, as well as determining the sites for vertiport installations. In the second phase, “exceptional investors who are experts in building the necessary infrastructure for the air mobility industry” will be identified and roped in.
What does the vertiport consist of?
The vertiport, whose prototype design was approved by Sheikh Mohammed, comprises a structure that features two levels for car parking. The topmost roof serves as the terminal for aerial taxis, which will be connected to the Emirates Metro Station via an air-conditioned bridge. The vertiport comprises four stands for aerial taxis and two landing areas, optimising its operational efficiency and maximising the utilisation of the station.
What are the stages of the operation?
The operation comprises crucial elements. They include detailed negotiation with a multitude of companies active in this field, signing of commercial agreements, establishment of local entities to execute relevant business endeavours, development of the necessary infrastructure and the actual roll-out of the service.
The next stage involves identifying a potential partner for investing in the infrastructure needed to introduce autonomous aerial taxis to Dubai’s skies. At present, commercial negotiations are in progress with the most promising and specialised investors globally in the realm of air mobility to construct the requisite infrastructure.
What are the project’s objectives?
The aerial taxi initiative aligns with the Dubai Self-Driving Transport Strategy, aimed at transforming 25 per cent of total mobility journeys in Dubai into driverless journeys by 2030.
When was this project first conceived?
RTA first showcased its autonomous aerial taxi at the World Government Summit 2017.
Has the aerial taxi had a trial run?
In 2017, the trial run was initiated for the first test flight of an air taxi capable of carrying two passengers.