In a significant move towards development, the State of Maharashtra has approved the Centre’s plan of a drone taxi service for Mumbai with a few ground rules.
In this regard, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation had made a presentation to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in August on its drone taxi policy and asked the government to submit a report.
“We have submitted our report with the request that more space be given to the State government’s view on the policy, especially with respect to height, high-rises and charging stations for these battery-operated aircraft. We have approved all the other aspects, including passenger, cargo and medical, of the drone service,” said a senior official who was part of the team that attended the presentation at the Sahyadri Guest House.
A drone taxi policy is being prepared by the Central government with the help of Uber, which has already announced plans to launch taxis to solve traffic troubles in cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi.
“Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru are some of the most congested cities in the world, where travelling even a few kilometres can take over an hour. Uber Air offers tremendous potential to help create a transportation option that goes over congestion, instead of adding to it,” the Uber announcement had said earlier this year during a launch of Uber Elevate programme.
Senior government officials said Mumbai has been shortlisted since the city’s new Development Plan has proposed permitting helicopter landing pads atop high-rises.
As per the new Development Plan 2034, any building over 200 metres in height would be allowed a helipad or landing facility as found fit by planners. “With the development plan already provisioning for a rooftop helipad, the city is best fit to have a drone taxi service. The smaller drone with capacity to seat two persons can take off vertically and is fit to fly and land on a rooftop,” an official said.
Uber’s Elevate programme will allow customers in launch cities to push a button and get a flight on demand. These fully electric vehicles will have a cruising speed between 150-200 mph, a cruising altitude of 1000-2000 feet and be able to do trips of up to 60 miles on a single charge.