Home to the world’s longest driverless metro, Dubai is now poised to offer its citizens the opportunity to hail a drone heli-cab by summer 2017. Designed by Chinese technology gurus, the Ehang 184 will become part of Dubai’s keen embrace of all things autonomous in the transport sector. The Dubai Smart Autonomous Mobility Strategy runs the gamut of trains, planes and automobiles—as well as marine vehicles and buses, with a goal of 25% of all journeys becoming driverless by 2030.

The egg-shaped drone can carry one passenger weighing up to 220 pounds (along with his or her small suitcase) for a short-distance trip of about 25-30 minutes, according to specs on the company website. It has successfully completed more than 200 crash-free test flights and is an appealing, eco-friendly transportation alternative. A single battery charge allows for a flight of 30-40 miles. The landing camera pre-sets the journey between take-off and landing targets. Just think of it: no more arguing with your cabbie about the best route to take at rush hour! And, should any of the four-armed drone’s components malfunction mid-flight, it is designed to land safely at first opportunity.   

Control centers operated by Ehang will track and manage the AAVs while in flight, similar to a taxi dispatch office, one with high-level tracking technology at work. China has already approved these drone flights in its own airspace, with an eye to creating an Uber-style service wherever the drone is granted permission to fly. Although the United States has been a little less speedy than Dubai in its embrace of this particular technology, we’re sure it won’t be long before short-haul business and pleasure travelers—fed up with highway traffic—start calling for heli-cabs like the Ehang 184.  

Categories: News, Autonomous Vehicles