New law takes Dubai closer to flying taxis, drone deliveries

The law has been issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

  
Men look at the flying taxi in Dubai, United Arab Emirates September 25, 2017.

Men look at the flying taxi in Dubai, United Arab Emirates September 25, 2017.

Reuters/Satish Kumar

Dubai on Saturday issued a new law regulating the operations of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), taking a step closer to connecting the city’s landmarks and buildings aerially, through the ‘Sky Dome’ project.

The law has been issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The Sky Dome project will see the Dubai skies buzzing with unmanned flying objects that will connect places and buildings through landing pads and mini airports across the city.

The law will pave the way for granting instant government permits and NOCs to public and private entities in order for them to use drones to provide related services in the future, such as flying taxis and drone delivery services.

It is the first step towards creating the infrastructure for drone systems and facilitates the development of an integrated framework for licensing and issuing certificates, permits, NOCs, and inspection services related to drone systems, and a legal system for investigating accidents and incidents.

An integrated business system for drones transport services, air freight and logistic services will also create an important new economic tributary for Dubai’s economy, officials said.

The law will help Dubai position itself as a centre for the manufacturing of drones and smart transportation. The drones transport systems market consists mainly of delivery of goods; transport of passengers and freight; and surveying and imaging.

Dubai has previously tested the world’s first self-flying taxi service. A video released back in 2017 shows the autonomous taxi taking off against the stunning backdrop of the Dubai skyline and it is seen soaring over the city before landing safely at the same spot.

Drones systems policy

Reacting to the law, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), said it establishes the framework for the emirate to be one of the world’s leading cities in “shaping the future of civil aviation”.

“The new law supports the implementation of the DCAA’s Dubai Sky Dome initiative, which seeks to build a structural eco-system for UAVs. In cooperation with the General Secretariat of The Executive Council of Dubai, the initiative has created a detailed drone systems policy,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed said.

Mohammed Abdullah Ahli, Director-General of the DCAA and CEO of Dubai Air Navigation Services, explained that the project will create a master plan for the infrastructure of ground stations and their use as airports; loading and connecting stations; and maintenance, operation and freight stations. It will also classify the main urban areas for the distribution of ground and air service sites.

Regulatory services

Another key component of the project is a unique integrated smart platform for providing regulatory services for UAVs to use domestic airspace and other related government services. The digital platform will grant instant government permits and no-objection certificates for drone operations. It will also facilitate efficient governance of the sector to ensure security and safety and prevent any disruption to the civil aviation airspace.

Neutralising security threats

Obaid Saif Al Nuaimi, Director of Aviation Security and Dangerous Goods at the DCAA, said that one of the important components of the project is a system to address safety and security risks of drone activities. The ‘Dubai Shield’ system will “detect and track drones and take necessary counter measures in cooperation with relevant government and security authorities,” he said.

 

 

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