The Emirate’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) announced Dubai could be the first city to see passenger-carrying drones. The statement, made at the World Government Summit on Monday, comes from a partnership with Chinese corporation EHang.
The EHang autonomous aerial vehicles (AAV) are the drone of choice for this notable goal. The EHang 184 only offers room for one person at a time, but the company said they will be operational in July.
Mattar al-Tayer made the statement on behalf of Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Agency:
“This is not only a model. We have actually experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai’s skies.”
Riders will simply sit down, chose a destination via touchscreen, sit back and enjoy the ride. The drone can carry a person up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and a small bag. The company calls the EHang 184 “the safest, smartest and eco-friendly low altitude autonomous aerial vehicle” around.
The 184 also comes equipped with a fail-safe system.
“If any components malfunction or disconnect, the aircraft will immediately land in the nearest possible area to ensure safety,” the EHang website says. “The communication is encrypted and each AAV has its independent key.”
The only disadvantage to the drone is its battery. At present, it only offers 30 minutes of flight time and a 31-mile (roughly 50 km) range. It clocks out at 100 mph (160 kph), but will probably have an average flight speed of 62 mph (99 kph) – putting it on par with most interstate speeds in the United States.
Dubai isn’t just pushing the envelope with aerial travel. It’s also partnered with Elon Musk’s Hyperloop One project, the high-speed transit system that cuts long-distance travel down to a couple of hours.
For an overview of the EHang 184, check out the video below: