According to a project spearheaded by the Israeli government to ease traffic congestion on the nation’s roadways, an autonomous helicopter taxi completed its maiden 30-minute test flight above Jerusalem on Wednesday.
The Hadassah-Ein Kerem Medical Center in the capital served as the launchpad for the Chinese-built eVTOL autonomous electric two-seater aircraft, which flew over the city’s hills before returning to the hospital’s grounds.
With a payload of up to 551 pounds (250 kilograms), the EH216 aircraft has a range of around 18 miles (30 kilometers). Emergency response teams on the ground and control centers kept a careful eye on the test flight.
The trial was made possible by the Israel National Drone Initiative, a 60 million shekel ($15.7 million) public-private partnership led by the Ministry of Transport, National Infrastructure, and Road Safety and involving Ayalon Highways Ltd., the Israel Innovation Authority, and the Civil Aviation Authority.
According to Daniella Partem, senior director of the Israel Innovation Authority, “what we’re looking at here is how Israel’s National Drone Initiative is expanding its scope to move beyond transporting packages to transporting human beings.”
We want to increase this model’s economic viability and expand connections in cities and other parts of the world.
Eleven private technology companies have participated in tests and experimental flights around the Jewish state under the aegis of the National Drone Initiative.
According to the initiative’s June announcement, over 19,000 sorties had been carried out over the last three years in both urban and rural locations.
“What we’re actually doing is a concept of operation that makes taxi drones or delivery drones—big ones—to bring them to the hospital with all the utilities that you need, and to also take them from here to the houses around Jerusalem,” Cando CEO Yoeli Or told Reuters.
“This is a new concept that actually brings us innovation, saves us time and money, and it’s green,” he continued.