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Autonomous Air Taxis Take to the Skies Over Jerusalem

September 21, 2023
Home > Autonomous Air Taxis Take to the Skies Over Jerusalem

Israel’s National Drone Initiative (INDI), a two-year 60 million NIS government-led project designed to encourage the use of electric autonomous flying vehicles to fly passengers and heavy cargo to reduce traffic congestion literally “took off” in a recent demonstration test in Jerusalem. A Chinese-made electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) long distance drone  took off from Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital and after a 30 minute flight over the city’s hills returned and landed.  

The demonstration flights are run by Dronery, a subsidiary of an Israeli drone delivery company called Cando and currently it is conducting these demo flights at Hadassah Hospital with the Chinese-made Ehang two seater air taxi. With the recent test flight in Jerusalem, the pilot program has been expanded to urban areas in preparation for the ultimate initiation of a drone delivery network  in Israel to ferry people and cargo thereby minimizing congestion on the country’s roads. In addition to cargo deliveries, another goal is to provide commercial and public services like live saving missions during emergencies such as earthquakes or any other mass casualty event as well as the delivery of emergency medical supplies and tests. 

Daniella Partem, senior director at the Israel Innovation authority said the following: “What we’re looking at here is how Israel’s National Drone Initiative is expanding its scope to move beyond transporting packages to transporting human beings, as well as looking to improve the economic viability of this model and advance connectivity in urban areas and further afield around the world.”

Given that it is still hard to estimate cost-per- flight, it is reasonable to not expect them to be delivering  take-out food orders yet, but INDI, which was established in 2019 to create a national drone network to prepare the country for drone deliveries has teamed up with regulators and private companies to advance the vision. As of June 2023, the second phase of the project began, with 11 drone operating and delivery companies involved in tests and experimental flights across the country’s skies. The test in Jerusalem by Dronery was a part of these experimental test flights  and the two-seater air taxi used is being developed to carry passengers up to 30 kilometers using its intelligent command-and-control system and  included real-time video transmission to control centers and emergency response teams, important for the use of these drones in an urban environment.

It really looks like we are getting one step closer to reaching out and touching the sky!

Source:  Times of Israel