OREANDA-NEWS. The Biryuch Innovation Centre in the Belgorod Region (part of the EFCO company) has completed the next stage of development of its own unmanned vehicle, the centre's press service told RBC. The company has named the project of an air taxi Hi-Fly Taxi.

The prototype of Hi-Fly Taxi can make unmanned flights up to 15 km and carry cargo weighing up to 120 kg. It was designed as a multicopter with 16 electric motors located in two planes, between them - the cockpit of the aircraft.

According to the submitted materials, test flights of the prototype aerotaxi took place in spring and autumn of this year, some of them had crashes. Flights in "manual mode" have been carried out since May, and the first unmanned flight took place in October. According to the Biryuch centre, investments in the project amounted to over 1 billion roubles at the first stage.

At the end of 2022, EFCO plans to implement the first Hi-Fly Taxi flights on dedicated routes in the Belgorod Region at a distance of up to 50 km. For this purpose, the company, together with the Belgorod Region Government, intends to achieve an experimental legal regime for the flight of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles in the region. The company expects to put the cargo drones into mass production and put them into commercial operation by 2024.

The Biryuch Innovation Centre was established by the company in 2004. The centre's website does not mention an aerotaxi development project, while projects under way include, for example, "Biotechnology of oils and fats" and "Innovations in oilseeds processing".

In 2019, during the MAKS international air show, Russian Helicopters signed an agreement with Yandex.Taxi to develop an air taxi system in Moscow. It was assumed that a VRT-500 helicopter would be used for the flights. The parties expect that it will be possible to order such transport using an application on a smartphone.