The Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur has signed a Rs 15 crore-Memorandum of Understanding to develop prototypes for self-piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. These prototypes will be used as air taxis for civilians, said Ajay Ghosh, head of IIT-Kanpur's Aerospace Engineering and Flight Lab. The deal was signed a couple of months ago with the VTOL Aviation Pvt Ltd, he said, adding the project will be completed within a span of five years. Ghosh said the project will be a milestone under the 'Make In India' project. A couple of instalments have already been allotted to IIT-Kanpur researchers to conduct a pre-feasibility study before embarking on the project, he said. The official said the project was challenging, but at the same time offered several advantages. "We have hopes that the development of such prototypes would be revolutionary and help ease traffic congestion, owing to the flexibility of aircraft to take off from and land on any terrain," the IIT official said. The VTOL technology equips the aircraft to perform manoeuvres that are impossible with traditional aircraft, and also comes across as a big advantage for air combat and rescue. Other features like an ability to carry enough payload and minimal readiness time make it handy in emergency situations like rapid deployment of ground troops, precise location hovering for delivery of supplies, Ghosh said. These aircraft will also be very useful for rapid medical evacuation of troops from difficult terrains, he said. "VTOL aircraft can be used for surveillance, rescue mission, combat situations, paramedics, and civil aviation," Ghosh said. The IIT official, however, said air traffic regulations need to be calibrated in case of such aircraft. Ghosh said VTOL aircraft are being seen as the futuristic solution to ease traffic congestion in major cities. These aircraft could be operated in both steered and pilotless modes from any trivial base like helipads or any ground surface, he said, adding it has capabilities to sustain high ground speeds attributed to a fixed wing. Many defence forces across the globe are now focused on development of such systems, the official added.