China Races To Be First Country With Flying Taxis


Chinese companies are fast developing drone and air taxi technology after the ‘low-altitude economy’ was named a strategic priority in the Beijing national economic agenda.

Shanghai-based aviation technology firm Autoflight has recently completed the successful test flight of a two-ton electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) at Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

It is one of several companies vying to launch in Beijing.

Dr Abdulghani Mohamed, Advanced Air Mobility researcher

“The low-altitude economy, also called Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), is gaining considerable international attention and China is not the only country focused on this developing technology.

“This emerging sector offers the potential to revolutionise transportation by using fully electric aircraft to move people and parcels autonomously – thereby reducing road traffic.

“Air vehicle manufacturers promise lower operating costs and enhanced accessibility, presenting significant benefits such as rapid cargo and medical transportation.

“Additionally, AAM can improve tourist access to regional areas, boosting local economies.

“There are several challenges which both industry and academics worldwide are working on solving, particularly focused on safe and sustainable operation of this new mode of transport.

“This includes safe flight routes, avoiding wildlife, noise reduction and operation in windy and turbulent conditions. The latter is particularly important for site selection of a vertiport, which is essential to China-and the rest of the world-setting up its low-altitude economy.

“The routine transportation of people in autonomous airborne vehicles is expected to take several more years to become commonplace.

“This delay is largely due to the necessity of adapting aviation regulations to accommodate this innovative technology.

“Nonetheless, the progress being made in AAM signals a transformative shift in how we think about and approach transportation, promising a future where air travel is more accessible, efficient, and environmentally friendly.”

Dr Abdulghani Mohamed works across aerospace engineering, robotics, aerodynamics, turbulence modelling, biomimetics and sensors. He is internationally recognised for his research into turbulence mitigation technologies and urban flow field characterisation relevant to flight. He co-leads the RMIT Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Research Team, which undertakes internationally leading autonomous aerial vehicle research. Dr Mohamed also sits on the panel of experts for Skyportz, Australia’s leading vertiport company, and is part of the CASA’s vertiport technical working group.


/RMIT University News Release. View in full here.