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According to Channel News Asia, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore(CAAS) is set to begin testing air taxis over Singapore's skies sometime in 2019. The taxis, Channel News Asia added, are like a cross between a helicopter and a drone as they take off and land vertically and can be controlled via remote control on the ground.
On Tuesday, Volocopter, the German company manufacturing the taxis, announced the trials and explained just how close we really are to hopping in a tiny aircraft to get from point A to point B.
CAAS’ deputy director of transformation programs, Tan Chun Wei, spoke at a media event, adding that the testing will take place "over water" rather than over the city’s massive skyscrapers.
"We are going to take off where we land. For the first phase, it’s very much into experimental,” he said. “For a start … it is going to be over water, and we are going to work with Volocopter on the safety aspects to ensure that even flying over water, it wouldn’t pose a public or even aviation risk. The landing spot will be somewhere in the southern part of Singapore.”
Right now, the trials are still in the planning phases. But, Volocopter’s CEO Florian Reuter told Channel News Asia, the company hopes the trials will be speedy so they can bring operational air taxis to Singapore "in the upcoming months.”
"We need to clarify logistics; where to store it (the vehicle), where do we get the technicians, who do we have to bring from our team and so on," he said. "Ultimately, we come up with a very comprehensive trial plan in terms of what is the documentation that CAAS needs to see. We have already exchanged a lot of that and CAAS is in constant exchange with EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) … but sometimes they require additional information. It might be very specific to the Singapore environment ... heat tests, humidity tests … these sort of things."
These air trials, Reuter noted, are the last thing to check off the list before the air taxis can officially take flight. And he’s hoping soon that the air taxis will be just as affordable as a traditional yellow cab.
"If you look at the way we build the Volocopter, if you look at the materials that we use and the components that we use … there’s no reason why when manufactured and operated at scale, it should stay much more expensive than a traditional car ride," he said. "So in the long run, we don’t want you to own the Volocopter. We want to use the Volocopter just like you hail a Grab ride today. It will be affordable for everyone for particular trips where it makes sense to take an air taxi.”
Now, if only they could hurry up and come to New York City and Los Angeles, maybe our traffic problems would be solved.