With opinions already divided about the safety of driver less cars, Austrian aerospace company FACC are taking things even further. They have teamed up with Chinese drone maker EHang to launch a pilot less 'flying taxi'
The EHang 216 which can seat 2 passengers rose above the pitch at Vienna's Generali Arena, home to soccer club Austria Wien, last Thursday; circled in the air briefly before coming down to land within a few minutes. Weighing just 340 kg the craft can fly at up to 150 km per hour for almost half an hour. The passenger cabin is small with limited leg room but the FACC have already received several thousand orders for the £250,000 drone. With no runway requirements, the EHAng 216 aims to offer short haul services for passengers, industrial equipment and urgent medical deliveries.
It may sound like science fiction but CEO of FACC, Robert Machtlinger says 'Urban mobility, flying without a pilot is possible, it's not a dream, it's existing' He added 'What is hindering us to go into larger volumes is regulation. A future legal framework for autonomous flying vehicles should regulate communication with other planes and helicopters and provide traffic rules'
Austrian transport minister Norbert Hofer hopes that Austria will be the place where thousands of these drones will be built and envisages that very soon we will see a lot of these air taxis in the air.
So will pilot less planes take off or are they simply pie in the sky?