Flying Taxis operation set for Spain

Tourists in Barcelona might be able to see the city from a new angle as flying-taxi trials are being planned in the city for 2022, according to Spanish air navigation authority Enaire.

The plan is to test aerial robotaxi services in Barcelona and Santiago de Compostela, which Spain hopes will by 2022 be packed with tourists once more.

“We need to move urban mobility into the third dimension: airspace. And we need to do it as efficiently and sustainably as possible,” Ángel Luis Arias, Enaire’s director general, told an online conference this week.

Mr Arias added that Enaire was involved in two projects that form part of the EU’s Horizon 2020, the bloc’s largest-ever research and innovation programme, involving the use of flying taxis and other aerial vehicles to move people around towns and cities, as well as the use of drones to deliver goods.

Last year Spain’s Tecnalia demonstrated its multi-rotor prototype with a capacity to fly a single passenger weighing up to 150 kilograms a distance of 15 kilometres, and the company says it has since improved the aircraft’s efficiency, precision and stability.

“We are working on these three elements with more advanced control algorithms and applying techniques of reinforcement learning,” Joseba Lasa, a researcher at Tecnalia, said this week.

Mr Lasa said that Tecnalia was preparing to participate in trials together with Chinese company Ehang, a leading force in the new sector.

The EU is expected to approve regulation to allow flying taxis to operate in 2023.


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