Mumbaikars may soon get to look down on traffic snarls, courtesy a drone taxi service

State approves drone taxi service for Mumbai, to take call on specifications

October 12, 2018 12:49 am | Updated 11:10 am IST - Mumbai

Vehicles stuck in a massive traffic jam near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. File photo.

Vehicles stuck in a massive traffic jam near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. File photo.

The State government has approved the Centre’s plan of a drone taxi service for Mumbai with a few ground rules. The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation had made a presentation to Chief Minster Devendra Fadnavis in August on its drone taxi policy and asked the government to submit a report.

“We have submitted our report with the request that more space be given to the State government’s view on the policy, especially with respect to height, high-rises and charging stations for these battery-operated aircraft. We have approved all the other aspects, including passenger, cargo and medical, of the drone service,” said a senior official who was part of the team that attended the presentation at the Sahyadri Guest House.

The Central government is putting together a drone taxi policy with the help of Uber, which has already announced plans to launch drone taxis to solve traffic troubles in cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi.

“Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru are some of the most congested cities in the world, where travelling even a few kilometres can take over an hour. Uber Air offers tremendous potential to help create a transportation option that goes over congestion, instead of adding to it,” the Uber announcement had said earlier this year during a launch of Uber Elevate in five shortlisted finalist countries that could be home to the first international Uber Air City within the next five years. Senior government officials said Mumbai has been shortlisted since the city’s new Development Plan has proposed permitting helicopter landing pads atop high-rises.

According to the new DP 2034, any building over 200 metres in height would be allowed a helipad or landing facility as found fit by planners. “With the DP already provisioning for a rooftop helipad, the city is best fit to have a drone taxi service. The smaller drone with capacity to seat two persons can take off vertically and is fit to fly and land on a rooftop,” an official said. Uber’s Elevate programme will allow customers in launch cities to push a button and get a flight on demand. The company is already carrying out a feasibility study in Mumbai, including assembling a network of partners that includes vehicle manufacturers, real estate developers, technology developers and more.

Uber Elevate programme

The Uber Elevate project was launched in October 2016 as part of its plan to enhance urban mobility in cities. Since then it has entered into partnerships with experienced aircraft manufacturers who are developing electric vehicles, including Embraer and Bell. Uber’s requirements specify that this fully electric vehicle have a cruising speed between 150-200 mph, a cruising altitude of 1000-2000 feet and be able to do trips of up to 60 miles on a single charge.

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