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Why Dubai is perfect runway for air taxi

Muhammad Riaz Usman
Making it work
Filed on February 5, 2018 | Last updated on February 5, 2018 at 09.14 pm
The Vimana aerospace engineering team is developing a one and four-seater Autonomous Aerial Vehicle.

(Supplied photo)

The autonomous flying taxi firm, Vimana Global, was founded by three friends - aerospace engineers and businessmen - united by their desire to change the way people fly. Evgeni Borisov, CEO and co-founder of Vimana, has over 15 years of corporate executive experience at Toshiba and Philips. Borisov leads Vimana to establish a concept and market for blockchain airspace while introducing a breakthrough Vertical Take Off and Landing Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (VTOL AAV).

"We, the Vimana founders, are three friends who met in middle school. We always wanted to fly, either as pilots or as aerospace engineers. This love towards the open sky led us to explore ancient Sanskrit legends and cutting-edge aerospace technology. Then came our involvement in the global blockchain economy. Once we put the two together, Vimana was born," Borisov explains.

Vimana, headquartered in Redwood City, CA, and with offices in the United States, Middle East, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Russia, introduces the first blockchain airspace platform for managing autonomous aerial vehicle flight routes in smart cities around the world.

Borisov recognised the need for smart cities to enact better transportation systems for rapidly expanding populations. In highly congested cities like Tokyo and Singapore, it would be very costly to completely overhaul the existing road and rail infrastructure to accommodate rising population sizes.

"Rapidly growing cities like Dubai, which have already invested in technology and have well-established smart city initiatives, are prime locations for urban air Mobility programmes, employing aircraft like Vimana's," he says.

The main challenge facing implementation of an AAV network is that existing air traffic control towers are unequipped to manage potentially thousands of AAV flights in a given city.

"Vimana addresses this hurdle with its patented, industry-first, blockchain-backed airspace ecosystem for managing AAV flight paths," Borisov claims.

"Blockchain technology is uniquely suited to power Vimana's blockchain aerospace network because of its capacity to validate data in a peer-to-peer network. Each AAV will be a node in the Vimana network wherein each node validates the flight routes of all other nodes in the network. This ensures that AAVs do not depend on a centralised authority for determining flight direction. With all nodes maintaining constant communication with one another, human passengers can simply plug in their final destination and relax as they are delivered safely and quickly to their stop," Borisov elaborates the mechanism of the self-flying vehicle.

The Vimana aerospace engineering team is developing a one and four-seater AAV.

"The first demonstrations of Vimana's unmanned aerial vehicles and blockchain airspace ecosystem will occur in selected smart cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, Singapore and Mumbai," he continues.

Vimana is involved in negotiations with 35 smart cities around the globe, "all of which are interested in becoming the first to launch blockchain airspace."

"Dubai has always been on the top of our list. We are in touch with Dubai South, the Roads and Transport Authority and other government entities. As soon as we have a clear path towards launching the urban air mobility programme establishing a Vimana blockchain airspace footprint, in Dubai, we will confirm the test flight plan. We are optimistic about the Q1 2018 timeframe," Borisov says.

"In my opinion, Dubai has everything it needs to win the race to become the first city in the world with a full-fledged urban air Mobility programme. We at Vimana will do everything we have to do to help Dubai make history," he says.

Researchers estimate that the total addressable market for blockchain airspace will be $132.6 billion by 2025. Vimana plans to achieve a 5 to 7 per cent market share by 2023, which translates into at least a $6.6 billion opportunity. The company plans to derive most of its revenue from direct and licensed manufacturing of blockchain-airspace enabled hardware, Vimana aircraft and terrestrial infrastructure, as well as from blockchain access and utilisation fees, and from the deployment of its blockchain airspace protocols.

"By 2023, we will have commercial operations in a couple of key smart cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Mumbai," Borisov says.

Kirill Nikolaev, Vimana board member, says Vimana's primary competitors all have VTOL capabilities and rely on electric motors to power their vehicles.

"Our aircraft's aerodynamic design is future-proofed in three major ways. For one, Vimana is not a battery-powered vehicle. That is to say, we have the know-how to avoid 100 per cent battery usage during the flight and, in certain cases during flight, make sure battery usage is as low as 20 per cent. This innovation allows the Vimana VTOL AAV to fly for over 7 hours and 800km distance. Secondly, unlike our competitors' aircraft, our electric systems can be scaled to increase the take-off weight up to 2,000 kilogrammes. This feature alone enables multi-passenger and cargo solutions for our fleet. Thirdly, the safe tilt-wing transition allows for a more comfortable flight. This paves the way for future aircraft models," Nikolaev claims.

"The second and arguably the more important differentiation factor is our blockchain approach. While there are several companies attempting to launch commercial AAVs, none share Vimana's vision that blockchain holds the key to resolving the urban air mobility problem, along with other issues plaguing humanity's evolution - for now. Vimana is the only player developing autonomous flight capabilities based on blockchain, that would meet FAA style latency requirements," he continues.

In January, Vimana announced that it has closed its multi-million angel round and kicked off its token generation event (TGE) by opening its whitelist to qualified entities. Vimana's TGE seeks to attract $35 million via the VAIR token sale.

"Vimana is accelerating the development of blockchain worldwide by enabling a whole new international blockchain economy that is aimed at empowering entrepreneurs in countries that otherwise wouldn't have this opportunity due to developmental challenges. I like this aspect of Vimana's business model and this is worthy of support," says Lon Wong, president and founder of NEM Foundation and the first announced Vimana investor.

Alexander Rugaev, Vimana board member and investor, says that big cities across the globe need to solve traffic bottlenecks and there are not many options left for it.

"Vimana can bring new 'air-roads' to smart cities to avoid traffic jams and bring a whole new experience of travelling inside the city. I invest in many blockchain-oriented projects and I see how blockchain can be used by Vimana to create an air protocol and bring added value to urban air mobility programmes," he says.

- riaz@khaleejtimes.com

 

 

 


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