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UK Government Aims for Flying Taxis to Soar in 2 Years.

The UK government has announced plans for the first flying taxi to potentially take to the skies by 2026, with expectations for them to become a common sight just two years later.

Crafted in collaboration with the aerospace industry, the Future of Flight action plan outlines a trajectory where drones and other aerial vehicles will progressively become more autonomous. Projections indicate that the inaugural pilotless flying taxi could launch as early as 2030.

However, experts caution that significant obstacles, such as infrastructure development and public acceptance, must be addressed beforehand.

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Flying taxis, resembling futuristic helicopters, are envisioned to accommodate around five passengers and are part of a category known as “eVTOLs” (electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft).

While the technology for these vehicles currently exists, initial operations are likely to be exclusive, catering to high-end transportation needs previously serviced by helicopters.

The Department for Transport also intends to expand drone capabilities, allowing for flights beyond visual line of sight. Potential applications include medical supply transport, rural postal deliveries, and law enforcement activities.

Craig Roberts, head of drones at consultancy firm PwC, emphasizes that infrastructure and public perception pose the most significant challenges to the deployment of flying taxis. However, he remains optimistic about meeting the 2026 target, particularly for longer-distance, higher-occupancy routes.

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Efficiency gains are expected to drive adoption, with flying taxis potentially reducing travel times significantly. However, technological advancements in security screening and passenger processing are deemed essential to demonstrate their convenience effectively.

Regulatory barriers have historically hindered progress in adopting new aviation technologies. Still, Dr. Nadjim Horri of the University of Leicester notes a promising shift as regulations align with technological advancements.

The proposed introduction of “mini airports” for drones necessitates infrastructure development, with the concept validated by a trial in Coventry in 2022. Urban Air Port CEO Andrea Wu underscores the importance of such infrastructure investments, emphasizing the need for urban transport hubs.

While acknowledging the ambitious timeline, Wu suggests that concrete plans are essential to propel the industry forward. The government’s plan includes the operationalization of the first vertiport this year, with further consultations underway for their integration into existing aerodromes.

SourceBBC

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