Will there be passenger drones by 2020

Austrian passenger drones should be ready for series production by 2020

By 2025, 3,000 electrically powered flying taxis should be in the air. A flight should cost as much as a taxi ride by car.

The population should be offered the first flights with air taxis as early as 2020. This is made possible by an alliance between the Austrian aviation group FACC, the Chinese Air Mobility Group EHang and ProSiebenSat.1PULS4, as announced at a press conference on Thursday. Over the next two years, 300 units are to be manufactured and shipped worldwide.

"We want to actively shape the mobility of the future", explained Robert Machtlinger, CEO of FACC AG, the entry of the aviation group into the market of "Urban Air Mobility". The market will only be awarded and the opportunity to get from this "significant cake" should not be left unused, said Machtlinger. He predicted: "We will definitely fly autonomously sooner than drive autonomously." This is due to the less complex design of the traffic routes in the air.

According to Machtlinger, there will be 3,000 electrically powered passenger drones in the air by 2025, transporting around 100,000 passengers per year. 25 years later, the number of air taxis in use will be thirty times higher - 98,000 passenger drones will then operate mainly in large urban areas and represent a low-emission, fast and quiet way of mobility. The prototype of the "Autonomous Aerial Vehicle" (AAV) from EHang is already being actively flown. Around 7,000 test flight hours - 2,000 of them with people on board - have been completed so far, according to Felix Lee, EHang Overseas Manager.

The passenger drones are less intended for private customers than for airlines, transport associations or start-ups that are supposed to offer them for shared use. Airspace regulation is a challenge that has yet to be overcome. In order to enable air taxis in Austria, there is already intensive exchange with industrial partners, politics and aviation authorities, according to Machtlinger. But the infrastructure also has to be expanded, for example, to enable landings in shopping centers, parking garages or train stations, explained Lee.

Chinese responsible for prototypes

The aircraft company EHang is responsible for the invention and the technological development of the prototype and positions itself as an expert for all questions relating to autonomous flying. FACC develops the prototype for series production and takes over production. Finally, ProSiebenSat.1PULS4 takes care of all communication relating to the project.

The AAVs offer space for two people and some luggage. According to Lee, their top speed is 160 km / h. He puts the maximum flight time at 25 to 30 minutes. Around 80 percent of the battery should be able to be charged within a quarter of an hour. With regard to the noise generation, the goal is that the air taxis are "as good as not heard from a distance of 15 to 20 meters," said Lee. At the moment they are still working on it, whereby the flying taxis are already quieter than a photo drone.

A flight with the passenger drones should cost as much as a ride in a conventional taxi, said Markus Breitenecker, Managing Director of the ProSiebenSat.1PULS4 Group. Only one will move ten times as fast. According to Breitenecker, fears must be reduced and acceptance created before it can be realized. You can do this at the upcoming "4Gamechangers" festival from April 9th ​​to 11th in Vienna. One of the flying taxis is exhibited there and invites you to try it out.