Saudi Arabia inaugurates air taxi service for Hajj pilgrims

The air taxi service will reportedly be available for pilgrims on this year’s Hajj [Getty]

Saudi Arabia inaugurated a pilotless air taxi service on Wednesday for use by pilgrims travelling within the kingdom for this year’s Hajj, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The self-driving vehicles will ferry pilgrims between holy sites, deliver goods and help with transfers during medical emergencies.

Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistic Services Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser said the service is the world’s first pilotless air taxi service to be licensed by a civil aviation authority.

“The inauguration of the air taxi is part of our efforts to adopt future transport technologies and environment-friendly models utilising artificial intelligence,” Al-Jasser said.

The service was inaugurated at a ceremony on Wednesday, where Al-Jasser and other officials saw a vehicle demonstrate its vertical takeoff.

The air taxis were first announced in January by Saudi flag carrier Saudia, which said it was preparing to purchase around 100 German-made electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.

Saudi Arabia also plans to introduce flying taxis to its futuristic NEOM megacity, where it was reported last year that German manufacturer Volocopter had run some test runs.

Saudi officials said this week that more than 1.5 million foreign pilgrims had arrived in the country by Tuesday, with more expected to arrive for the annual Hajj.

Saudi authorities expect pilgrim numbers to exceed those of 2023, when more than 1.8 million people performed Hajj, approaching pre-pandemic levels.


Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *