US-based firm promises to launch autonomous flying taxis in the Russian Far East by 2022

Vimana Global eVTOL aircraft. Photo: Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MOSCOW, Aug 17, 2020, Pan Pacific Agency. US-based flying taxi startup Vimana Global, founded in 2015, could set the aero navigation infrastructure for autonomous aerial vehicles (AAV) in the Russian Far East region by 2022, Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic said today.

The navigation system would allow to control at least six AAV with a payload of 150-500 kg on an area of about 400 sq. km. These aircrafts would be able to transport goods for the federal postal service, e-commerce services and industrial enterprises. Russian island of Sakhalin on the border with Japan could be a first territory where the transport service by Vimana will be deployed, officials say.

Vimana Global is developing an electric-powered, vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, and a blockchain-based control system. The multi-component system includes the aerial vehicle, control systems, setup and support, which will operate as an open architecture ecosystem.

The Vimana AAV is a tilt-wing eVTOL, which has 8 electric motors powered by electric hybrid power source. The craft has a 10 m wingspan, and able to carry a 400 kg payload of up to 4 passengers, with a range of 900 km and a top speed in sustained flight of up to 152 mph (244 km/h). The company has also developed a smaller cargo version of the drone, which could carry a 150 kg payload up to 1,200 km, according to the Vimana Global official website.

Vimana Global project cost is estimated at 700 million rubles ($9,5M). Funding sources were not disclosed. Russian officials said that the project would be subsidized by a “group of Russian and international investors.” At the same time, Far East investment agency will help Vimana Global to “search for partners and co-investors to launch the project,” Leonid Petukhov, agency’s CEO, said.

In 2017, the company announced the future release of its own cryptocurrency Vair to raise $35M. In 2018, during the Arab Future Cities Summit, Evgeny Borisov, Vimana Global CEO, announced the possible flying taxi systems launch in Dubai. World’s first flying taxi by the German Volocopter was successfully tested in the capital city of the UAE in 2017. Flying taxis by Vimana Global was expected to launch in Dubai by 2020, TimeOut Dubai reported.

In 2019, Vimana Global signed the memorandum of understanding with Chinese Smart Agritech (Sichuan province) to supply an agricultural modification of its AAV, Evgeny Borisov writed at his Medium-blog. This model “can be used for multiple purposes including monitoring of crops, or as a dusting spraying platform to deliver herbicides and fertilizers”, he noted. Vimana Global “is currently rolling out it’s patented technology in Germany, Africa, Saudi Arabia, and has cooperation plans in China, Indonesia, and other ASEAN countries,” Mr Borisov writed in another post.

Russian version of this article is available here.

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