It is the stuff of science fiction – flying cars like those from the movie Blade Runner.
However, in some corners of the world, science fiction is moving quickly toward “science fact.”
Chinese company EHang recently received airworthiness approval from the Chinese government for its design for an autonomous flying taxi.
The electric flying taxi from EHang uses a vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) design and autonomous piloting which will continue flight tests in the coming months.
The two-person taxi is capable of flying up to 80 mph with a range of 20 miles and promises to alleviate ground traffic in China’s majorly overcrowded cities.
Likewise, German company Volocopter is ready to provide autonomous air-taxi services in France in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The taxi looks like a large drone with a series of electric-powered rotors that will fly from one of five proposed landing pads around the country.
The taxi called the VoloCity seats two passengers, and its rotors are four times quieter than a helicopter.
While the company has run several successful demonstrations of the taxi, it has yet to receive approval from France or from the areas supporting the helipads.
There are discussions about such air taxis in the U.S., but the FAA estimates limited testing won’t begin until 2025, with approval potentially targeted for 2028 depending on the success of testing.
Paul Fontaine, Assistant Administrator at the FAA said, “These things will be coming on the scene, and our job is to try and be ahead of the curve.”
There are many steps, however, that must be taken before these vehicles filling our skies become a reality.
Uber had predicted that it would be flying taxis by 2020, but that has not happened yet.