A Hong Kong-based startup has announced its plans to launch passenger drone services in the city. It will be an app-based service, like Uber.
Also known as a flying taxi or pilotless helicopter, a passenger drone is a type of personal air vehicle (PAV) that picks passengers from one destination and drops them at another.
Realizing the potential of drone technology, many countries have significantly increased their investment in it in recent years. Today, drones perform various tasks in both civilian and military domains.
Drones are used for the delivery of goods, for surveillance of large gatherings during protests and demonstrations, for the shooting of films with drone-mounted cameras, among others.
However, the use of drones as taxi services is an altogether different area. It requires a different level of radios, on-board sensors, and a trained operator.
The world’s first passenger drone, eHang 184, was launched by a Chinese company based in Guangzhou. However, its operations have so far been postponed due to safety issues.
This means that Hong Kong could be the first city in the world to introduce passenger drones as well as operate seaplane routes.
According to reports, the startup, Seaplane Hong Kong, is planning to launch the services in the city and the Greater Bay Area, with the flight testing of the drones beginning at the end of the year.
Steven Cheung, the founder of Seaplane Hong Kong, said that the HK$100 million-project will begin operations and offer passengers services that include aerial sightseeing, private charter flights, and on-demand air taxi services.
The drone flight services will connect Central, Kwun Tong business district, and Tseung Kwan O New Town, with the commute time being shortened to between 5 to 8 minutes.
Moreover, the fare during non-peak hours is expected to be kept as low as HK$200. According to reports, a mobile app will be launched for the drone service, like Uber, to provide people with the option to book a ride.