A Chinese firm tested out an electric flying taxi in Dubai on Monday, offering a glimpse of futuristic technology that could one day whisk people through cities high above any traffic.
The XPeng X2, developed by the Guangzhou-based XPeng Inc’s aviation affiliate, is one of dozens of flying car projects worldwide. Only a handful have been successfully tested with passengers on board, and it will likely be many years before any are put into service.
Monday’s demonstration was held with an empty cockpit, but the company says it carried out a manned flight test in July 2021.
The sleekly designed vehicle can carry two passengers and is powered by a set of eight propellers. The company says it has a top speed of 130 kilometres (80 miles) per hour.
Unlike airplanes and helicopters, eVTOL, or “electric vertical takeoff and landing,” vehicles offer quick point-to-point personal travel, at least in principle.
The pilot-less vehicles could one-day ferry passengers across town high above congested roadways. But the sector still faces major challenges, including battery life, air traffic control and safety, and infrastructure issues.