Volocopter, a German aviation startup formerly known as E-volo, just announced that it inked a deal with Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority to begin testing its 18-rotor multicopters as part of a flying taxi service later this year. The news further cements the city’s reputation as a testing ground for some of the transportation world’s more futuristic and outlandish ideas.
Volocopter’s Dubai experiment will start in the fourth quarter of 2017, and is scheduled to last five years under the agreement with the RTA, said Alexander Zosel, co-founder of Volocopter, in a statement. “We are very grateful and proud that the RTA has selected us as their partner after rigorous testing,” he added, citing his company’s “stringent safety standards” as among the reasons his company was selected.
Volocopter’s prototype VC200 took its first crewed flight last year. And at Europe’s largest general aviation trade fair earlier this year, the company revealed its first production model: the 2X. It has a maximum range of 17 miles when flying at a speed of 43 mph. Its maximum flight time is 27 minutes at an optimal cruise speed of 31 mph, but if range were no concern, the 2X can fly at a maximum speed of 62 mph.
Volocopter won’t be the only flying taxi service buzzing through Dubai’s airspace. RTA also recently struck a deal with the Chinese drone company Ehang to test its single-person quadcopter as a transit alternative. Uber is also in talks with the emirate city to publicly demonstrate its own flying taxi service in 2020. And if flying through the air in an autonomous drone isn’t your bag, perhaps you’d be more interested in tube-based travel: Dubai is working with LA-based startup Hyperloop One to build the world’s first passenger-ready hyperloop.