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Self-driving cars might be the future of transportation for the rest of the world but Dubai is taking things a step further. Not content to simply let cars whisk citizens around, the city is working to make fully autonomous flying taxis a reality.
While this might seem like a pipe dream to some, Dubai successfully staged its first unmanned passenger drone flight on Monday - carrying none other than Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed himself.
The flight was short and sweet, lasting just five minutes and only covering about 200 meters, but it still served as an excellent proof of concept to skeptics. The vehicle in question was a two-person drone developed by German firm Volocopter. By all appearances, the drone resembles a miniature helicopter.
Ultimately, Dubai is hoping to develop a fleet of drones capable of flying up to 30 minutes at a time and doing so without any input from the passenger or a third-party. The city hopes to make the service as easy to use as Lyft or Uber, with citizens simply hailing a ride from an app and waiting for the drone's arrival at a nearby "Voloport."
There are obviously some concerns associated with putting humans in unmanned flying vehicles but the city is hoping to mitigate potential dangers by offering built-in parachutes, back-up rotors and smart collision avoidance technology.
The implications for technology like this are endless. Emergency responders could arrive at a crime scene or rescue operation much more quickly than ever before (and from virtually any angle). The potential for a significant reduction in ground traffic is very real as well.