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Safety will be paramount for Dubai's passenger drone

RTA says AAV passenger drone undergoing safety certification ahead of planned July launch

The AAV drone service is due to launch in July this year.
The AAV drone service is due to launch in July this year.

Dubai's Roads & Transport Authority has said that safety will be the priority for the planned launch of its passenger drone service in July.

Speaking at an RTA event today, Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the board of the RTA, said that the Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) was currently undergoing testing and certification ahead of the planned launch of passenger services this summer.

"We announced in July that this type of service will be available to the public, from now to July, we have to go through different processes, one of those is the certification process, we will never make any service, available, any mode of transport for people unless it is internationally certified," Al Tayer said.

The RTA will also appoint a certification partner to ensure the AAV meets the required standards.

Ahmed Bahrozyan, CEO of RTA's Licensing Agency and head of the Smart Vehicles Committee, added that safety was paramount: "It is very important for us to ensure the safety of any mode of transport, especially a mode of transport that is not manned, that is even more critical. The good news as the chairman mentioned, there is a strong intention to put this mode of transport into operation, by July, but that will depend on how far we are able to proceed with the certification.

"We will be appointing a certification entity to work with us very closely on this project, and we will not launch any service to the public unless we are 100% sure about the safety of the service," he added.

Earlier this month at the World Government Summit, the RTA announced that it had successfully trialled the AAV, a single-seat flying car in Dubai. The single-seat passenger drone is intended to provide a taxi service between pre-set destinations across Dubai. The vehicle will fly on autopilot, and will be monitored by a central command centre.

The vehicle has been developed as a research project with Chinese manufacturer EHANG, Al Tayer added, and that before widescale deployment, the RTA would need to agree a production schedule for the drones for the coming years.

The AAV will have a range of 40-50km, and a flying time of around 30 minutes. The vehicle will be able to carry a load of 100kg.

A passenger in the AAV will be able to select from a number of preset destinations displayed on a map on a touchscreen in the cockpit. The drone will then fly to the selected destination.

The AAV is a quad copter vehicle, with four pairs of propellers, which Al Tayer said will mean in the event of one propeller failing, the drone will still be able to complete the flight smoothly.

The AAV is designed to fly for maximum 30 minutes at a maximum cruising speed of 160 km/h, with a standard speed of 100 km/h. The ascending/descending speed is about 6 meters per second and the landing speed is 4m/s. The AAV measures 3.9 m in length, 4.02 m in width and 1.60 m in height. It weighs about 250 kg and 360 with a passenger. The maximum cruising height is 3000 feet and the battery charging time is 1-2 hours. The AAV is designed to operate under all climatic conditions apart from thunderstorms.