City One Step Closer to Becoming The Jetsons

Passenger-carrying drones are coming to Dubai in July
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 14, 2017 11:31 AM CST

(Newser) – Up, up, and away: Dubai hopes to have a passenger-carrying drone regularly buzzing through the skyline of this futuristic city-state in July. The Chinese-made EHang 184 can carry a passenger weighing up to 220 pounds and a small suitcase, reports the AP. After buckling into its race-car-style seat, the craft's passenger selects a destination on a touch-screen pad and the drone flies there automatically. The drone, which has a battery allowing for a half-hour flight time and a range up to 31 miles, will be monitored remotely by a control room on the ground. Its top speed is 100mph, but authorities say it will typically be operated at 62mph.

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The question is whether the egg-shaped, four-legged craft will really take off as a transportation alternative in this car-clogged city already home to the world's longest driverless metro line. At the World Government Summit, Mattar Al Tayer, the head of Dubai's Roads & Transportation Authority, announced plans to have the craft regularly flying in July. The RTA later issued a statement saying the drone had been examined by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and was controlled through 4G mobile internet. The drone may be a techno curiosity for now, but Dubai has bold visions for the future, and the 184 fits right into its plans: Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced in April he wanted 25% of all passenger trips in the city to be done by driverless vehicles by 2030. (Read more drones stories.)

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