The trial operation of Dubai’s air taxi service will start in the fourth quarter of the year instead of this summer, according to Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority (RTA).

Unlike the previous plan of using one-seater unmanned autonomous air taxis (AATs), the authority will utilise two-seater AATs that have an autopilot or autonomous flying feature but will be manned.

Germany’s Volocopter Company, which specialises in manufacturing AATs, will design and operate the vehicles.

The announcement made earlier this year indicated that the authority was to utilise unmanned drones to be supplied by China’s EHang.

Legislation required to operate such vehicles will be prepared as soon as the trial run starts, according to Mattar al-Tayer, director general at RTA said in a statement.

The executive said all aspects relating to the operation as well as security and safety of the autonomous aerial taxi will be verified and checked during the trial period. “The official operation hinges on the readiness of companies and the availability of legislations necessary for operating autonomous aerial vehicles,” Al-Tayer said.

The electricity-powered AAT features 18 rotors, aircraft emergency parachute, 9 independent battery systems and fast battery charging time of 40 minutes.

The initiative is in line with Dubai’s objective to convert up to 25 per cent of all journeys into autonomous transport by 2030.

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