The United Arab Emirates wants to run the world’s first drone taxi service to lead the Arab world in innovation. The first drone taxi service showcased last week in Dubai.
The flying taxi was developed by German drone firm Volocopter. It is made up of a two-seater helicopter cabin and a wide hoop studded with 18 propellers on the top.
The maiden test run was performed in a ceremony for the Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.
It was unmanned for its test flight even though it is meant to run without remote control guidance at a maximum speed of 100 kilometres per hour and maximum flight duration of 30 minutes.
It is equipped with a lot of safety devices including nine back-up batteries, 18 rotors and parachutes in case of trouble.
The batteries can be charged within 40 minutes.
The flying taxi will undergo test flights and safety checks over the next five years while the rules and regulations for the new transport system are worked out, the UAE said.
Meanwhile in China, there are equally great tech developments including the world’s first large cargo drone which will make its first flight this month.
This unmanned aerial vehicle was actually a P-750 New Zealand-made aircraft modified by Chinese research institutes to make large deliveries, Chinese media reported.
They removed the pilot’s instruments in the cockpit and installed automated flight devices which reduced the plane’s weight.
It now has a maximum weight of 3.4 metric tons, a carrying capacity of 1 ton and flying range of more than 2,000 kilometers.
The project is for SF Express, the second largest courier service in China. The engineers say the drone will be used for demonstrations until it gets certified for commercial operation.
There’s more from China. A Shanghai-based company UVS Intelligence System has produced the world’s first unmanned, amphibious cargo aircraft.
This unmanned drone called the U650 was built based on a Spanish amphibious aircraft system whose intellectual property rights were acquired by the Shanghai company.
The plane can carry up to 250 kilograms of cargo on water, and its wings can also carry four payloads, including inflatable life rafts.
The 5.85-meter-long plane is made of carbon fiber. It can stay on water for 15 hours and cruise at a speed of 180 kilometers per hour.
It also has a flight range of 2,000 kilometers and is capable of taking off and landing from short unpaved airstrips, grassland or water.
The U650 was first tested in December 2015. The owners said they have began mass production and will enter commercial operation this year as they await approval.
Watch this edition of Hi-Tech on The Morning Call with Ismail Akwei for more.