Dubai: driverless drones will provide a taxi service next July

Dubai has tested a Chinese prototype of a self-driving hover-taxi, with the aim of introducing the aerial vehicle in the emirate by July.

The test of the one-man electric vehicle comes as the city state in the United Arab Emirates seeks to ensure a quarter of its means of transport are self-driving by 2030. The introduction of this innovative aerial vehicle will help to reduce traffic congestion especially during the busy hours.

The head of Dubai’s transportation agency said that self-flying taxis would start taking people across the city starting from July.

The city will use the Ehang 184 for the airborne service. The Ehang is a drone that can fly without human direction and carry a single passenger and their bag. It can take one person on a journey up to 23 minutes long.

Dubai is not the first city to show an interest in using the Ehang, first unveiled at CES in 2016, as part of its transport system. Las Vegas would also start trialling the drones for public use.

The Ehang is electric-powered and can travel for about 50 km with a person and bag that weigh up to 100kg. It can go at speeds of up to 100 km an hour at an altitude of 300 metres.

The vehicle, made by Chinese drone manufacturer EHang, can recharge in two hours and make trips of up to 30 minutes.

To call for a flying taxi all passengers will need to do is enter their destination into an app. The drone then maps the route and transports the passenger to their destination. It can’t fly directly but has to hop from one set landing spot to another.

Its propellers fold inwards as it lands so it can fit in a single car parking space.

Designed to be secure, the autonomous vehicle has a “fail safe” system, according to the company, that prompts it to land in the nearest place if anything malfunctions or disconnects. It also communicates via encrypted channels.

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Drone in Dubai

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