US aircraft manufacturer Boeing has been holding talks with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) on the emirate’s autonomous transport programme.
“We’re watching that [programme] very closely,” says Steve Nordlund, Boeing’s vice-president for Strategy, Defense, Space and Security, said. “There is no part of this equation that we are not thinking about.”
Dubai recently undertook trial flights for an autonomous aerial taxi (AAT) service with Germany’s Volocopter.
The current prototype version of the Volocopter unit has a maximum flight time of approximately 30 minutes at a cruise speed of 50 kilometres per hour (kph) and a maximum airspeed of 100 kph.
The service is expected to be rolled out once the safety standards and framework have been established.
“We do not think there will be a massive number of air taxis [in use] tomorrow, but what we are looking at is being able to implement this from a safe and reliable standpoint,” Nordlund said.
While Boeing does not have a similar product to an aerial taxi that is scheduled to roll out of production anytime soon, the executive said it will not be the first time that they are not the first to go to market with a new or disruptive product. “Our priority would be how to do it right,” the executive added.
An autonomous aerial taxi service is part of Dubai’s programme to convert 25 per cent of all journeys in the emirate into autonomous journeys by 2030.