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If you thought flying cars were just a thing of science fiction, you may want to think again, as French officials are planning to test Europe’s first electric air taxis in preparation for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
The test site is located in Pontoise, just outside of Paris, and will see around 30 manufacturers carry out their trials.
If all goes to plan, sports fans could be flown around the city in these futuristic taxis in order to ease congestion.
Augustin de Romanet, CEO of Aéroports de Paris, said: “Our Pontoise airfield brings together a unique ecosystem around new air mobility and the trial platform we are launching today is unprecedented in Europe.
“It will function as a concrete experiment to explore the field of possibilities of a decarbonised and innovative aviation, and to develop the low altitude aviation market (below 300 metres), which has been largely unexplored until now.”
The aim is to create two flight paths to ferry passengers around Paris during the games.
Manufacturers that have joined these exciting trials include Volocopter, Airbus, Vertical Aerospace and Ascendance, Lilium and Joby Aviation, with the expectation that more could be added.
Alexandra Dublanche, Vice-President of the Ile-de-France Region, spoke of the urgency of this matter: “With the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games, mastering these new technologies and uses in a densely populated area like Paris Region is not an option, it is a must.”
Despite being new to Europe, flying vehicles have actually been in the works for a while.
Last year, Uber Elevate and Joby Aviation announced their partnership with the aim of ‘enabling seamless integration between ground and air travel for future customers’, according to their press release.
Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi added: “Advanced air mobility has the potential to be exponentially positive for the environment and future generations.”
The 74-mile journey from San Francisco to San Jose, which currently takes over two hours by road, was said to take just 15 minutes using the proposed Uber Elevate taxis.
Hyundai also announced it was developing airborne vehicles aimed at services like Uber Elevate.
Their goal is to have vehicles airborne by 2028, with seating for up to five people.
Hyundai has created a new manufacturing division dedicated to the cause, with the goal of integrating air taxis into our existing lives.
They aim to build any necessary infrastructure, such as ‘vertiports’, which are transport hubs for flying taxis.
It seems the battle to create the world’s first flying car is well and truly on.
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