A demonstration of a drone taxi has taken place in Seoul, South Korea.
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), developed by Chinese company Ehang, is part of South Korea’s plan to develop a commercial drone service by 2025.
The K-Drone System will receive US$22m (£16.7m) investment over the next two years.
In an Urban Air Mobility Demo on 11 November, no passengers were on board but 70kg of rice bags were placed in the seats of the Ehang 216.
Several small drones, designed to monitor traffic conditions and alert of any potential risks, took off first. A siren rang to signal the all clear before the two-seater UAV ascended.
The autonomous aerial taxi flew over the Han River for around 10 minutes at a height of 35m and reached a top speed of 31mph. When the Ehang 216’s battery is fully charged, the craft can reportedly fly for as long as 30 minutes.
According to the company, the demonstration was part of a wider series of tests on unmanned drone taxis and drone deliveries, with the aim of easing urban traffic congestion in South Korea.
Jang Young-ki, deputy director of South Korea’s transport ministry drone division, said: “There are three key things to overcome when looking at the challenges that lay ahead.
“First is the appropriate technology, second is sufficient government funds and lastly, building trust in the minds of people is needed for them to be able to use drones.”
Initially, the aerial taxi will be controlled by a human on-board pilot and will resemble small helicopters. Ehang’s UAVs are currently in use in China for deliveries, firefighting and tourist flights.