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
It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a ... Person-Carrying Drone
A model of EHang 184, the next generation of Dubai's drone taxi, is seen during the second day of the World Government Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Monday.   (Kamran Jebreili)

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.

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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