As technology advances, we continue to question how we can integrate it into our everyday lives. Transport is continually developing with research into autonomous vehicles, flying taxis, and electric cars – with the latter frequently appearing in the news. These advancements could change the way we travel around in our everyday lives.
Dubai is leading the race to introduce the world’s first autonomous flying taxi. In September, they made aviation history with the a two-minute piloted flight of their flying taxi, the Volocopter. It is hoped after this initial success that future flights can last up to 30 minutes in the future. The Volocopter can hold up to two people, and resembles a drone with 18 rotors above it. The taxi takes off and lands vertically and operates on GPS tracks whilst in the air. The next steps the company are taking is to ensure that it is able to avoid obstacles. Once they are fully operational, the taxis is going to will be integrated with Dubai’s existing public transport systems, and if plans are kept it will be possible to ride a Volocopter in the next 5 years.
Like Dubai, Germany are also exploring flying taxis. On the 21st of April 2017, start-up company Lilium piloted the first flight of their electric jet plane. The first flight was operated remotely, but the company plans to use manned tests in the future. Like the Volocopter, the Lilium takes off vertically, however, the two taxis look completely different. The Lilium has a row of electric jet engines on the front and rear of its wings that are able to adjust their tilt to switch between horizontal and vertical flight. This environmentally friendly taxi flies as planned according to Lilium, so their next steps are to develop a five-seat version.
By now nearly all of us have heard of the Google car, the fully autonomous vehicle. Fully autonomous vehicles are being researched worldwide and many different versions are being tested. Internationally recognised car manufacturers such as VW, Toyota, and Audi have announced their plans to release their own autonomous vehicles by 2021. However, currently we cannot insure these cars on our road; if two autonomous vehicles are in a crash, how is it decided which is at fault?, and is it the owner’s fault, or the manufacturer’s fault? Questions like this will need to be solved before we can integrate these vehicles into our lives. Despite the difficulties with insurance, autonomous vehicles can have many benefits. Common causes of accidents such as distraction, speeding, and drunk driving could all be solved with avoided by utilising autonomous vehicles. Additionally, they are accessible to a wider audience, including the visually impaired and individuals who may be prohibited to drive due to a disability or medical condition. There is also the potential for the legal age of driving to be reduced, which raises another question: will we even need driving licences to drive them?
From flying taxis to autonomous vehicle’s, the transport landscape is changing. With technology leading the way, will our legal systems be able to catch up in time for the release of these new modes of transport? Either way, the future transport industry looks nothing like we’re used to.