It is hard to imagine a city without traffic jams. Crowded streets, blocks and screeching vehicles have become the hallmark of metro cities. However, air taxis that are about to start in different parts of the world indicate that traffic jams will become a thing of the future. Israel is the latest country to explore the potential of air taxis.
Israel has begun testing autonomous drones that will help them fly with passengers and carry cargo. The testing of the air taxis is part of a government-led project called the Israel Drone Initiative (INDI). Founded in 2019, Indy’s main goal is to build a drone network that connects the entire country. The intention behind the project is to facilitate travel and the movement of goods without getting into traffic jams.
This is the first project of its kind in the world. The possibility of carrying cargo will be examined first, and then the possibility of carrying passengers.’ The Times of Israel reports that Miri Regev, Israel’s transport minister, explained. Eleven drone operating companies have joined hands in the trial in the country. An autonomous flying vehicle and a long-range vertical takeoff and landing aircraft have reportedly been tested.
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Two people can travel in this electric vehicle. It can bear weight up to 220 kg. It can travel a distance of 160 km. This vehicle has folding wings. This will make it easier to park and take off. The aircraft currently being tested can significantly reduce traffic congestion. If cargo is moved in this way, cars and trucks will be off the roads. Better air traffic control methods should be implemented.’ said Orly Stern, CEO of Ayalon Highways.
Ayalon Highways is an Israeli government agency that deals with transportation. Apart from Israel, the UAE is also pursuing an air taxi project. It is estimated that an air taxi service will be operational in Dubai within the next three years. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, approved the plan for the vertiports for passengers to board the air taxis in February last year.
These air taxis have room for four passengers and a pilot. The maximum speed is 300 km per hour. It can fly continuously up to 241 km. It does not emit any hazardous substances that cause pollution. America and China are with them in the air taxi project. In May, the US government appointed a special task force to formulate national policy on modern air transport systems, including flying taxis.
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The task force includes NASA, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Federal Communications Commission. The FAA has released draft airspace regulations for air taxis. The first vehicle is expected to fly in late 2024 or early 2025. China has similar plans. The plan is to launch short distance vehicles by 2025, medium distance vehicles by 2030 and long distance vehicles by 2035.
Online taxi company Uber is also preparing to enter the air taxi business. In 2018, Uber in Japan announced that it would be bringing air taxi services to various cities around the world. Along with Tokyo, Osaka, Sydney, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Dallas and Los Angeles, the Uber Air Taxi project has been announced in three Indian cities. An air taxi project called Uber Elevate was announced in the metro cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru.
“Air taxis in the future will be what cars are today. It will be the main mode of transport tomorrow. By 2045, the use of e-VTOL will be almost as common as the use of cars.’ Daniel Wiegant, CEO of German electric air taxi manufacturer Lilium.
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Major car companies such as Toyota, Hyundai, Airbus and Boeing have also invested heavily in the air taxi market. Experts have noticed that the air taxi sector will grow beyond limits in the coming years. This growth is likely to change our travel habits.
Even as air is cemented as the mode of transportation of the new age, safety concerns remain. Ensure that passengers and spectators are not exposed to danger. Potential risks due to hacker intrusion should also be assessed. Many regulations may have to be introduced such as air traffic safety, traffic control and noise pollution.
Ticket prices are another problem. There are those who predict that air taxis will become a form of transport that none but the rich can afford. The McKinsey report suggests that such urban air mobility vehicles will only be successful if they can travel at a discount of at least 80 percent of the current cost of helicopter travel. Only then can air transport compete with road transport.
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Finding suitable landing spots for air taxis is also important. If ports are few and far between, air taxis will have to follow the path currently taken by helicopter transport, which will limit travel destinations, the report suggests.
If air taxis take longer to reach their departure points, passengers will prefer road transport. Although the challenges are many and will take longer than expected to bear fruit, there is no doubt that this’ tomorrow’s mode of transport. The time is not far when air taxis fly through the skies in cities.