Would you take a flying taxi across London?
The battle between ride-hailing apps and London black cabs may be being fought on the ground (although the new Uber Boat has brought it to the water too), but the next battleground is likely to be the sky, if European trials of a new flying taxi service prove successful. A Chinese company called EHang Technology has signed an agreement to run flight tests of their “passenger transport drones” in Seville, the first city in Europe to try out the futuristic taxis. And maybe London could be next… [Featured image: @ehang.official]
The EHang AAV (Autonomous Aerial Vehicle) is billed as a solution to crowded, traffic-snarled streets, simply floating above all the noise to guide its passengers to their destination. They flying taxis aim to be eco-friendly, whizzing through the skies at low-altitudes (though high enough to clear buildings, I hasten to add). The Seville trials will evaluate the possibility of using the taxi in build-up urban areas, its environment impact, and whether local residents take kindly to the sight and noise of flying taxis in their skies. Trials are also planned for the city of Linz in Austria, and they’ve run a few tests in Guangzhou too.
EHang have pretty big ambitions; their stated goal is “safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility for everyone”, which means that if trials are successful, you might see these flying taxis above London before long. You may have picked up on the word “autonomous” – yes, that does mean these taxis won’t have a pilot on board. They’ll be controlled from the ground, with 4G & 5G technology used to maintain communications, remote control of the aircraft, and the transmission of flight data in real-time.
Pelting through the skies over Central London without a pilot at the helm might sound a daunting prospect, but that’s what the rigorous testing phase is for, one presumes. We’ll keep you updated with any developments, but in the meantime, keep watching the skies…
Find out more about EHang and their AAVs here.
Also published on Medium.