Airspace above cities is becoming increasingly valuable as the concept of pilotless flying vehicles is becoming more of a reality. This will potentially have a dramatic effect on the tourism industry as travelers flock to the early-adopting countries to take a first-hand look at the new technology, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The transport will be expensive at first but in the long-term, prices may drop. Uber Air will cost $1.85 per rider, per mile in the near term but this could drop to $0.46 in the long term. This is in comparison to the $9.28 cost per rider, per mile of traveling in a helicopter, according to Uber. Once the technology is deemed safe enough, passenger drones could become a substitute for piloted helicopters, especially as their environmental impact is likely to be lower.
Laura Beaton, Travel and Tourism analyst at GlobalData comments, “The capability of drones is ever-increasing and despite numerous safety issues that need to be considered, large companies are driving forward with their designs such as Vimana, Uber, Lilium, Airbus, Volocopter, and Ehang which are just some of the companies vying for market share in this potentially lucrative space. Traditional taxi companies are already struggling to keep up with the likes of Uber and Lyft; drone taxis are likely to become even more of a disrupter.”
Drone taxis from US-based firm Vimana Global are expected to debut in Dubai in 2020 and the US has also licensed testing of these futuristic vehicles. Should Dubai become the first place to make these vehicles available to the public, visitor numbers are likely to soar.
Beaton concludes: “People are happy to travel in helicopters so this is just the next step forward in the evolution of futuristic travel. Flying passenger drones have already been designed and tested so it is just a matter of time before these become commercial. By 2030, there will certainly be the option in some cities to ride in an autonomous vehicle through the air.”