Russia — The Air Taxis Have Landed in Moscow

  • The air taxi is flying in Luzhniki.
  • The air taxi fits in a regular parking spot.
  • The capacity is for two people.

Moscow has one of the worst gridlock problems in the world. The air taxi is the answer.  Russian startup Hover is doing just that. Nevertheless, there is also the EHang company out of China. The Hover startup solves multiple issues with their product. Last December, during the next round of investments, the project was estimated at $30 million.

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) (or uncrewed aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone) is an aircraft without a human pilot on board and a type of unmanned vehicle. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two.

Among the investors are entrepreneur Ismail Akhmetov, co-founder of QIWI Sergey Solonin, Starta Ventures Fund, business angels Nikolai Belykh, Evgeny Medvednikov, Maxim Korobov. Since 2016, the company has raised $3 million to create a drone.

Moreover, Hover started testing the air taxi in Moscow. The area chosen for testing is the Luzhniki Stadium. According to the developers, Hover can fit two people and essentially a large drone.

It should be noted that the number one nation in drone technology is Israel. The design of the taxi looks very similar to a quadcopter.

In order to prepare the Hover taxi for flight, it needs to be charged using a 220 volt outlet (the European standard outlet). The taxi takes eight hours to be fully charged from the conventional outlet and only 40 minutes from the industrial outlet.

The weight limit of the passengers is up to 600 pounds. The take off is vertical, it does not need any special site, and can easily land and take off from parking lots. Hover is able to take off to a height of up to 150 meters and accelerate to a speed of 200 km/h.

Thus far, the battery can only last 20 minutes. In addition to the engines, the drone is equipped with a lidar for determining altitude, a barometer, an accelerometer, and other sensors. In the next modification, cameras will be used so that the device can see and recognize objects.

Hover fits in a regular parking spot. The control of the taxi is done via a radio remote. Thus far, the Hover is being tested in manual mode. However, in the future, it is expected it would operate on automatic mode. The automatic mode allows it to set the routes and even height. The passengers are given headphones due to the noise level inside the Hover taxi.

Luzhniki Stadium is the national stadium of Russia, in its capital city, Moscow. Its total seating capacity of 81,000 makes it the largest football stadium in Russia and the ninth-largest stadium in Europe.

Safety is obviously a big concern. The Hover team states that the taxi has additional propellers in case the main four stop working. In the case of all eight propellers malfunctioning, there is also a parachute.

There is a question regarding the insurance and liability for the air taxis. There are risks associated with the travel. Would insurance companies even consider ensuring such risk? The only company in the West that could possibly be willing to insure the air taxis is Lloyds of London. They specialize in the manuscript policies and even insure the Olympics.

Overall, the Hover startup is working on additional models to include longer leg space and even a luxury taxi version. Thus far, the taxi has a simple design inside without any frills. Also, due to the noise level, conversation is nearly impossible in the air taxi.

It is unclear if the noise level can be reduced in the subsequent models and the battery life is expected to be longer. It is highly likely the air taxis will be used around the globe by 2025.

Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

Leave a Reply