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US will accelerate drone taxi approvals but trails Dubai, China and New Zealand


U.S. Department of Transportation said it would use the same process to consider approval of drone taxis that would carry passengers and cargo for hire as it does for approving traditional commercial air carriers.

Under U.S. law, the agency must certify that any business carrying people or cargo for hire is economically "fit, willing and able" to perform. Certifying an airline under those regulations can take years, but the DOT can exempt operators that are using smaller or mid-sized aircraft.

Boeing owns Aurora Flight Sciences

Aurora Flight Sciences that focuses on developing the next generation of advanced, autonomous flight systems. Equally capable of supporting both commercial and government customers, the R&T sector specializes in the core technologies of autonomy, electric propulsion, advanced manufacturing, advanced aircraft design, and operations in the global airspace system.

The R&T Sector's overarching mission is to:

* Put autonomy to work by performing tasks for and with humans
* Enable flight vehicles to operate with increasing levels of autonomy
* Develop technologies for rapid production of low-cost, high-performance aircraft
* Demonstrate and field affordable, high efficiency, and high reliability electric propulsion systems
* Develop innovative aircraft that achieve revolutionary gains in performance and capabilities

China's EHang passenger drone

Ehang conducted over 1,000 test flights with human passengers, including a 984-foot (300-meter) vertical climb, a weight test carrying over 500 pounds (230 kilograms), a routed test flight covering 9.3 miles (15 kilometers), and a high-speed cruising test that reached 80.7 mph (130 km/h).

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