18 avr 18

KPN is testing autonomous drone taxi in Amsterdam

The Dutch telecom provider KPN is testing an autonomous flying drone taxi in Amsterdam, reports Het Financieele Dagblad.

The Ehang 216 AAV (Autonomous Aerial Vehicle) is built by the Chinese electronics manufacturer Huawei. It is a two-seater craft that uses a fast 4G internet connection t find its route. It is equipped with sensors to check its surroundings and prevent collisions. The drone can reach a height of 300 metres and can carry 230kg.

A first day of testing was held in the Arena football stadium with the roof closed as flying over public terrain isn't legally permitted yet. Further testing will be done at Valkenburg airstrip.

Not before 2030

For safety reasons, no-one is allowed inside the drone during testing. Jacob Groote, responsible for fast mobile networks at KPN, is convinced that won't be for much longer: "We rather think of years than dozens of years."

As spokesperson of the Dutch Transport Ministry is more sceptical, pointing out that far more testing will be required and that it such unmanned drones certainly won't be allowed to legally carry passengers on a large scale before 2030.

In China, the Ehang 216 AAV has already conducted more than 1,000 manned test flights.

Image: AFP

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck