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BBC: 无人驾驶的空中出租车

The sky taxis with no pilots

无人驾驶的空中出租车

You know the feeling. You're stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. It's going to be hours before you get home. As we know all too well, congestion is one of the downsides of modern city living. Don't you wish you could just take to the skies and soar above it all in a helicopter?

你懂那种感觉的。就是那种“被堵在路上,要好几个小时才能到家”的感觉。大家都知道,交通拥堵是现代都市生活中的负面现象。你难道没幻想过坐上直升机直冲云霄吗?

Well, wish no more. Right now, the race is on to release the first commercially viable sky taxi. No longer will personal air travel be the preserve of the super wealthy, say optimistic tech entrepreneurs. There's just one catch: how do you feel about having no pilot?

好吧,不再是梦想了。现如今,第一辆具有商业可行性的空中出租车已经诞生了。做私人飞机不再是阔绰的科技企业家这样的超级富豪的特权了。唯一的问题是:无人驾驶的飞机你敢坐吗?

For brave passengers, the city of Dubai plans to roll out rides on their pilotless drone taxi project by the end of this year. You can buckle up and share the ride with one other passenger in their 18-rotor craft, developed by German start-up Volocopter, with a top speed of 100km/h and a flight time of around 30 minutes.

对于勇敢的乘客来说,迪拜今年年底会推出无人驾驶的空中出租车项目。你可以系上安全带,和另一名乘客一起体验他们的旋翼飞机。这款飞机由德国Volocopter无人机公司研发,最大飞行速度为每小时100公里,最长可飞行30分钟。

If you have more friends, French aviation company Airbus are working on a drone which can carry four to six customers. Or if you prefer your own company, Chinese firm Ehang are pioneering a single-seater drone, which stays airborne for 23 minutes.

如果你想和更多朋友一起乘坐也没问题。法国空客公司正在研发能搭乘4-6人的无人机。如果你想一个人乘坐也可以,中国亿航无人机公司正在研发可飞行23分钟的单座无人机。

Ride-hailing company Uber also want a piece of the action. They say drones like this are the "future of on-demand urban air transportation". They recently poached NASA chief technologist Mark Moore to help them develop a drone taxi. And he claims it won't cost the earth. Moore told the BBC that with three or four passengers sharing, it would be "very similar to what an UberX [car] costs today".

打车公司优步也想参与其中。他们表示这种无人机是“未来所需的空中交通工具”。优步公司还聘请了美国国家航天航空局的首席技术专家Mark Moore来帮助研发无人机。Mark Moore表示这种交通工具不会漫天要价。他向BBC透露说三四个乘客分担后的费用“和现在优步打车的费用差不多。”

So far so good. But naturally, a number of questions remain. On the technical side, there's the problem of batteries. A 23-minute flight could get you across town, but how and where does the battery recharge?

目前为止,一切进展顺利。但问题自然也是存在的。在技术方面,电池这一问题需要解决。23分钟足以横穿整座城市了,但电量用完后如何充电以及在哪里充电都是问题。

And regulations are a challenge too. US authorities require aircraft to carry at least 20 minutes of spare fuel. If you only have 23 or even 30 in total, that leaves very little leeway. Control of access to flight paths will also need to be worked out.

政府规定也是一项问题。美国当局要求飞机至少要携带能维持20分钟的备用燃料。如果总共只能飞行23或甚至30分钟,余下来的时间就微乎其微了。航线准入也是需要解决的问题。

Even if these issues are tackled successfully, there's still the biggie: safety. Will passengers really be willing to put their lives in the hands of a flying robot? Winning the trust of the regulators and the public may take time. But when they do, well, the sky's the limit.

即使这些问题都能迎刃而解,还有一个最重要的问题:安全。乘客们真的愿意把自己的性命交给一个飞行机器人吗?要取得监管者和公众的信任可能需要一定的时间。但一旦做到了,那就没什么不可能的了。

 

词汇表

bumper-to-bumper

(交通)非常拥堵的

congestion

堵车,交通堵塞

to take to the skies

冲上云霄

the race is on

竞争已经开始

viable

可行的,有望成功的

preserve

(某类人群的)专利

catch

暗藏的问题

drone

无人驾驶的飞机

to buckle up

系好安全带

craft

飞行器

aviation

航空

airborne

在空中的

ride-hailing

(提供)叫车(服务)的

a piece of the action

(口语)分一杯羹

on-demand

按需的

to cost the earth

(英式口语)漫天要价

leeway

富余的时间

flight path

飞行的路线,航线

biggie

(口语)重要的事情

the sky's the limit

“天空是极限”,没有做不到的事情

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