HANNOVER MESSE 2019, 01 - 05 April
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Research & Technology

Passenger drones set to take off

Although there are still no drones that carry passengers, the industry is already eyeing the runway: The electric transporters could be flying inner-city and regional routes in as little as from five to 10 years.

12 Dec. 2018
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Passenger drones set to take off (Photo: EHANG)

This at least is what the management consultancy Roland Berger expect to happen . Their prognosis sees pilot projects with commercial passenger drones in Dubai and Los Angeles flying as early as the beginning of the 2020s. The consultants expect there to be about 3,000 such drones by 2025, but that the market will grow exponentially after that because operating costs are significantly lower than for helicopters. There are, nevertheless, still some open questions, such as the optimal architecture or landing sites. A stable 5G network would also be necessary to ensure passenger drones secure communication with control authorities and other airspace users.

The analysis goes on to say that cooperative projects are particularly important for the stakeholders. An example of this is the Urban Air Mobility initiative , which is funded by the EU and whose members include the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt along with other European municipalities. Roland Berger partner, Tobias Schönberg, believes that Europe could "expect a revolution in mobility" if such partnerships work.

It looks like China is already one step ahead. The company Ehang claims to have already completed numerous test flights with a single-seat passenger drone. They published a video of such a flight in February 2018. The company says it should be ready for series production "in the near future".