Testing is already underway in Dubai on a new means of zipping through a crowded city. It involves an autonomous drone capable of carrying a passenger… and some brave test subjects.
Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Authority has been examining the drones and provided a demonstration of the capability during a recent three-day summit attended by world leaders.
The plan is to have these single-occupant, fully-automated drones up and running by the middle of this year. The drone being used is one built by Chinese firm Ehang. It’s called the 184 and was presented at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. The drone has also been tested in Nevada and, though it doesn’t appear to have a massive range or cargo capacity, it is apparently ready to go.
Initial testing by Ehang of the 184 saw range figures of 2.2 miles. That could be useful in a dense city like Dubai, especially for emergency situations, but would struggle to find a foothold in other more spread out metro regions. Still, the fact that we’re even talking about the testing of an autonomous passenger drone taxi is a reminder that there’s some seriously cool technology out there in the world.
It won’t be long before we’re complaining about the sky traffic as if we were background characters in “The Fifth Element.” We will also lament for “the good old days” when we used to pilot our flying cars all on our own.