Dubai Plans To Launch Autonomous Flying Taxi
Just over a year after EHang’s passenger-carrying autonomous drone was unveiled in Las Vegas, officials in Dubai said this week they plan to provide flights to the public in the aircraft by this summer. “The AAV [autonomous aerial vehicle] on display at the World Government Summit is not just a model but it has really flown in Dubai skies,” said Mattar Al Tayer, chairman of Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, at the summit in Dubai on Monday. “RTA will spare no effort to launch the AAV in July 2017.” The EHang, built in China, can carry one passenger for up to 30 minutes at a speed of about 62 mph. The passenger will be able to select a destination on a tablet in the cockpit, and the aircraft will autonomously fly there, while being monitored by controllers at a remote control center, the RTA said in a statement.
The EHang can carry one passenger weighing up to 220 pounds, plus a small suitcase, according to the RTA’s video (below). The vehicle was unveiled in Las Vegas early last year. Eight propellers arrayed on four arms power the aircraft. Emergency systems will direct the drone to land if there’s a malfunction, or allow the passenger to command a landing if a problem arises, the company said. The aircraft has been undergoing testing at Nevada’s Institute for Autonomous Systems, which is an FAA-designated UAS test site.