Flying taxis could be with us sooner than you think as Dubai hopes to launch its “aerial ridesharing” service by 2026.
United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum has announced the approval of the designs for new air taxi stations across the city.
Renewing Dubai’s commitment to the flying taxi programme, he said the services will start operating within three years’ time – after first being touted in 2017.
A promotional video, which was also tweeted out by the ruler, shows a six-rotor electric flying taxi made by Joby Aviation, which is headquartered in Santa Cruz, California.
The US aviation company, highlighting the innovation after a meeting with the leader, tweeted that Dubai was “a high-growth, high-innovation economy” and that it was “honoured to present Joby” and “discuss what aerial ridesharing can do for Dubai”.
It’s time for lift-off
In the video, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said it has been working with leading advanced air mobility companies – Skyports Infrastructure and Joby Aviation.
“We’re excited about the opportunity and actively exploring the possibility,” said Oliver Walker-Jones, a spokesman for Joby Aviation said.
It is hoped there will be “safe and efficient operations” of the aircraft and a “smooth end-to-end passenger journey”.
The firm’s plans include vertical take-offs and landings with zero operating emissions.
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Here’s what we know about the aircraft so far
• The aircraft can carry one pilot and four passengers
• The taxis can go up to 300km per hour at top speed
• There will be “vertiports” which connect four main areas of Dubai
• The stations will be: New Dubai International Airport; Downtown; Palm Jumeirah; and Dubai Marina.
Social media reaction
The flying taxis have been met with positive feedback in Dubai and many users have tweeted to share their excitement.
“When I was young, I used to imagine seeing a flying taxi so that we wouldn’t wait in the crowded street and stop at the traffic light after that,” one user wrote.
Another user said: “I used to watch cartoon series and fantasy movies. I did not think that this would happen in reality!!”
Not the first and probably not the last
This is not the first time the idea of flying taxis were introduced to the city.
Since 2017, the United Arab Emirates has seen a series of different aircrafts and companies cycle through plans.
They have usually been timed to be included in Dubai’s annual World Government Summit, which this year included the latest Joby plan.
Last year a Chinese firm XPeng Aeroht, showcased its two-seater electric VTOL flying car in a demonstration.