United Airlines committed to drone taxis for short-distance passenger transport
United Airlines has placed an order for the delivery of 200 four-person drone taxis. With this, the company wants to focus on transporting people to and from airports, making car trips unnecessary and reducing CO2 emissions. The drone taxis will be provided by Embraer subsidiary Eve Air Mobility.
Making car trips unnecessary
The order for 200 drone taxis from Eve follows an earlier order for 100 EVTOL aircraft from Archer Aviation. United Airlines has also expressed its intention to order another 200 drone taxis from Eve in the future.
According to United Airlines, electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing eVTOLs have the potential to eliminate car trips to and from airports, resulting in lower emissions.
Eve's electrically powered drone taxi has a range of about 100 km. The cruising speed is approximately 200 km/h. There are four passengers plus a pilot on board. In the future, the pilot should become redundant, and up to six people would fit in the aircraft.
Compared to a helicopter, the aircraft is much quieter and more energy-efficient. However, the eVTOL that Eve has developed has yet to be certified.
Additional infrastructure needed for drone taxis
According to United Airlines, additional infrastructure is still needed to accommodate flights with drone taxis. Not only at airports but also in cities: the so-called vertiports.
“But we think this industry will accelerate significantly by the end of this decade,” said United Airlines CEO Michael Leskinen.
Ultimately, a drone taxi ride to the Airport should cost around $100-150 per person. United Airlines wants to start flying drone taxis in 2026. Other airlines, including American Airlines, also want to use electrically powered air taxis for short-distance passenger transport.
An artist's impression of a vertiport on the roof of a skyscraper. Source: Eve Air Mobility
This article first appeared on Dronewatch and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.
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