Russia Develops Auto-Piloted Air Taxi

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According to Izvestiya, Aviaton is developing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the SerVert CV5B, which will become a prototype of the air taxi.

The first testing stage requires $23.1 million, 70% of which will be provided by the AeroNet, part of the government-backed National Technological Initiative. Initial trials will be conducted with cargo on board and later with people.

The aircraft will presumably cover up to 1,000 km per flight, during which it will be operated by someone on the ground or by autopilot system. The UAV weighs almost half a tonne, but will be able to take off from areas less than 30 metres in diameter: liftoff will be vertical, like that of a helicopter.

“The SerVert project is promising, especially given the lack of airport infrastructure. In rural areas it could be in high demand,” said Sergey Zhukov, leader of the AeroNet. The air taxi's cost will range from $700,000 to $1 million.

As of April 1, 2016 the law requires registration and a pilot's license for all aircraft with a weight of more than 250 grammes.

A one-of-a-kind virtual outdoor range to test unmanned aircraft and model AI behaviour might also soon appear in Russia.

The project has brought in joint partners Cognitive Technologies and KamAZ, as well some Japanese and Korean car manufacturers. It is expected to draw in $2.3 mn in investment over the next two years. Other participants include the National University of Science and Technology (MISiS), the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, and Innopolis, a special economic zone.