WATCH: Forget driverless cars, Dubai has built a taxi drone

2017-02-16 11:32 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - While the battle is on to see which forward thinking company can successfully put the first driverless car on the road, Dubai has skipped the queue and unveiled a new automated flying taxi to soar over busy streets and past the desert city’s skyscrapers at the touch of a button.

And it's not an elaborate, futuristic plan, either. Passenger drones will start operations in the Emirates as early as July this year, according to the director of the city’s transportation authority. 

Mattar Al Tayer, director general of Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, said at the World Government Summit 2017 in Dubai that the United Arab Emirates would “spare no effort to launch” autonomous aerial vehicles by July.

SEE: WATCH: New, driverless taxi ups the anti on self-drive cars

Test runs have already been carried out successfully. The eight-rotor drone, made by the Chinese firm Ehang, has flown past the Burj Al Arab, Dubai’s iconic, sail-shaped skyscraper.

Take a look: 

The video describes the Ehang 184 drone as “autopiloted, directed and monitored via a command centre.” It will be able to fly for 30 minutes on a single battery, flying at a typical speed of around 45km/h. 

The drone has also been equipped with fail-safe technology and in the event of a malfunction, it “will immediately land in the nearest possible area to ensure safety.”

The small drone pod will be able to carry a single occupant with a small suitcase. 

The roll-out forms part of an ambitious plan to increase driverless technology and is also part of the city's plan to impose cutting-edge technology to help with congested roadways.

In October last year, the city also signed a deal with the Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One to study the potential for a hyperloop between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates capital.

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