We first saw Chinese manufacturer Ehang's amazing human-transporting drone at last year’s CES. While this sort of futuristic technology can often take years to reach consumers, anyone wishing to take a trip in the autonomous, flying taxi might be able to do so this year – providing they’re willing to travel to Dubai.
The head of Dubai's Roads & Transportation Agency, Mattar al-Tayer, announced the plans during the ongoing World Government Summit. "This is not only a model," he said. "We have actually experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai's skies."
The Ehang 184 drone, named after its ability to carry one passenger, the eight propellers, and its four arms, is an all-electric machine that generates 142 horsepower and can fly for about 30 miles on a single charge with a cruising speed of 62 mph.
The drone can carry one person weighing up to 220 pounds, along with a single suitcase. For Dubai’s proposed service, passengers just need to hop in and choose from a list of predetermined destinations on the touchscreen. The drone would then be piloted and monitored from a remote command center.
Following its CES debut, the drone was tested in Nevada last year. Trips in Dubai are expected to begin in July. The country’s Road and Transport Agency said the Ehang 184 "had been examined by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and was controlled through 4G mobile internet."
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Emir of Dubai said he wants 25 percent of all trips in Dubai to be made by driverless vehicles by 2030.
It’s unclear when the drone taxi might make it to the US, as it has to be given the okay by the Federal Aviation Authority before being allowed to transport passengers. But perhaps one day it’ll become the best way to avoid traffic congestion while offering some great views.