From city center to airport in four minutes: Czech company demos ‘flying taxis’

The new development, which could be ready by 2030, would also connect Prague to Karlovy Vary in 30 minutes. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 08.11.2023 16:18:00 (updated on 08.11.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Would you ever take an “air taxi” from the center of Prague to Václav Havel airport in around four minutes? Perhaps you’d fancy a visit to Karlovy Vary in under half an hour. In less than 10 years, this seemingly utopic thought may become a reality, according to the Czech Aviation Research and Test Institute (VZLÚ), which is developing Czechia’s first “flying taxi.”

Following a press conference Monday that unveiled the vehicle, VZLÚ director Josef Kašpar said he wanted to offer “convenient air travel within a price range comparable to regular taxi services.” He is eyeing the first sky taxi, named MiYa, to be available to the public in 2030. The institute has not yet announced details on pricing. 

Reaching other parts of Czechia in minutes

The VZLÚ wants to help make Czechia more inter-connected, bridging the gap and journey times between different cities. 

A taxi journey in the sky from Prague to Karlovy Vary would take just 26 minutes, and a trip from Prague to the popular ski resort of Špindlerův mlyn would last 23 minutes. Both these areas would take around two hours to reach by car, and a journey to Špindlerův mlyn via public transport can last over three hours.

The flying taxi would not only fly from Prague: Kašpar says that a Pardubice-Liberec line is in the works, which could connect both cities in under 20 minutes. 

The VZLÚ says this new mode of transport will have a transformative impact on travel across the whole country. “Not everywhere has a network of highways or railways,” Kašpar commented Monday, emphasizing that the service would especially help people who are not from the capital.

New ‘stations’ all around Prague

To facilitate this ambitious project, departure and landing stands – referred to as "vertiports" – are being strategically planned at locations including Prague’s main station Hlavní nádraží, Letňany, Pankrác, Chodov, and Prague’s Ruzyne Airport. These vertiports will play a crucial role in helping the public use the aero taxis. 

A four-person limit – and without a pilot

The VZLÚ describes the taxi as an autonomous flying vehicle, resembling a four-seater car but without a driver's seat. The air-based vehicle will operate along pre-planned routes, communicating with passengers and air traffic controllers from a ground control station. Notably, it will be unmanned (without a pilot).

The sky-based taxi has a passenger capacity of four and a maximum weight load of 400 kilograms.  The aircraft will have a wingspan of 15 meters and will be able to fly at a speed of up to 300 kilometers per hour.

While MiYa is designed for a flight height of 4 kilometers, journeys are expected to be made at only 400 meters above Prague.

Emission-free, but regulatory hurdles ahead

The drone is good news environmentally: it will be powered by electricity and produce zero emissions, with longer-range journeys powered by hydrogen fuel cell generators. 

However, one significant challenge faced by developers is the need for Czech legislation to catch up with – and approve of – this pioneering technology. The VZLÚ emphasized that the taxi will need to meet safety regulations, ensuring that the technology aligns with existing aviation standards.

The next seven years will be seminal in seeing whether the flying taxi will be approved and developed en masse in Czechia, potentially revolutionizing the face of urban (and even cross-country) transportation.

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