As early as July, the city of Dubai will begin employing passenger drones to transport commuters. The drones will be able to transport a single rider along with a small piece of luggage, avoiding traffic as part of the city’s push to expand driverless technology. The plan will use an eight rotor drone produced by Ehang, a Chinese firm, which already flown successful test runs past the Burj Al Arab, one of Dubai’s signature skyscraper.
Mattar Al Tayer, the director general of Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority said the drone “is not just a model but it has really flown in Dubai skies,” and that the Dubai would “spare no effort to launch” the new system by July.
The drone, the Ehang 184, can fly up to 31 miles (roughly 30 minutes) on one battery charge, carrying a 220 pound passenger, according to a promotional video for the drone. While its top speed is 100 miles per hour, it will normally travel at 62 miles per hour. The video called the drone an “autopiloted, directed and monitored via a command center.”
The manufacturer added that in case of any malfunctions, the drone “will immediately land in the nearest possible area to ensure safety.”
The drone is the most recent effort by Dubai to use technology to help clear up the city’s problems with traffic congestion.
Last year, Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced that by 2030 one quarter of all commuting within the city would be by way of driverless vehicles such as the new passenger drone. Already, Dubai boasts the world’s most extensive driverless subway system, and last year began a trial program for driverless cars produced by French company Easymile. In October, Dubai signed a deal with Hyperloop One, based in Los Angeles, to build a line connecting the city to Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital.
The idea for the hyperloop was proposed by Elon Musk in 2013, and would use levitating pods powered by electricity and magnetism, speeding through low friction pipes at speeds as high as 760 miles per hour. A hyperloop system would boast a travel time from Dubai to Abu Dhabi of only twelve minutes – an hour long journey by car.
At a product talk for the hyperloop line, Hyperloop CEO Rob Lloyd said:
“This has become a transportation hub and leader in the world. In the Emirates, we believe everything is possible.”