Monday, June 17, 2024

Flying taxis set to take off in China as part of push for ‘low-altitude economy’

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China could soon become the first country in the world with flying taxis as part of Beijing’s plan to develop what it calls the “low-altitude economy”.

For years, tech companies have been striving to get a commercial electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) service off the ground.

Able to fly over congested cities, eVTOLs are like a cross between electric cars and drones, and can be powered by renewable energy.

They don’t need runways and are quieter than traditional helicopters, so are better able to operate in urban areas. 

Several manufacturers around the world believe the technology is ready for short-hop flying taxi services — but they need to convince the world’s regulators that they’re safe.

What is the ‘low-altitude economy’?

Beijing reckons there are big opportunities in the airspace about 1,000m and below.

At December’s central economic work conference, which sets China’s national economic agenda, the so called “low-altitude economy” was designated a “strategic emerging industry”.

Aside from flying taxis, the sector includes businesses using both drones or crewed aircraft to do things like package delivery, drone light shows and rapid-response emergency services.

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