A Chinese company tested an electric flying taxi in Dubai on Monday, offering a glimpse of futuristic technology that could one day carry people through cities above traffic. The XPeng X2, developed by Guangzhou-based XPeng Inc’s aviation subsidiary, is one of dozens of flying car projects around the world.
Only a few have been successfully tested with passengers on board, and it will likely be many years before any are put into service.
Monday’s demonstration was carried out with an empty cockpit, but the company says it conducted a manned flight test in July 2021. The sleekly designed vehicle can carry two passengers and is powered by a set of eight propellers.
The company says it has a top speed of 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour. Unlike airplanes and helicopters, eVTOL, or “electric vertical takeoff and landing,” vehicles offer fast point-to-point personal travel, at least in principle.
Driverless vehicles could one day transport passengers through the city over congested highways. But the sector still faces big challenges, including battery life, air traffic control and security, and infrastructure issues.