Technology 3 min read

Chinese Flying Cars to Make Dubai Debut This Summer

The Ehang 184, automated flying passenger drone |

The Ehang 184, automated flying passenger drone |

Traffic is a real bummer. To mitigate that, road infrastructure capacity must always be increased. Dubai, on the other hand, has another idea. Taxi drones will fly customers between the skyscrapers of Dubai next July.

City transportation systems face a major challenge in ensuring the long-term mobility of its citizens. According to the UN DESA’s World Urbanization Prospects, in 2014, 54% of the world’s population lived in urban areas, a proportion expected to increase to 66% by 2050 (about 7 billion). It may not be enough for transport infrastructure to increase. Sustainability will have to come into play.

Automated flying cars, the Ehang 184, will fly in Dubai in 2018.Click To Tweet

Dubai to Launch the First Driverless Taxi Drone Service

Dubai launched the Smart Autonomous Mobility Strategy, where 25% of all journeys in the city would be autonomous by 2030. To achieve this, Dubai has invested in drones and the technology needed to make flying cars possible.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) worked with a Chinese company, Ehang, to work on autonomous drones capable of carrying a human being. A simple, single-seat pod, the Ehang 184 is an electric drone that’s capable of carrying one passenger (up to 220 pounds payload) autonomously at up to 300 meters of altitude thanks to rotors enabling it to reach a speed of 100 km/h.

flying cars
EHANG 184 |

The passenger has only to select their destination on a convenient touch-screen before the drone takes off and flies to the destination automatically. Right now, the drone is capable of half-hour flights at a time.

Made of reinforced composite material (carbon fiber, epoxy, and aluminum alloy), this drone-taxi is equipped with a fail-safe system that in the event of a malfunction, the aircraft would immediately land in the nearest possible area. Also, there’s control center on the ground to monitor the aircraft.

This is truly an Industry 4.0 development as the drone takes advantage of flight computing advancements in use by commercial airliners for nearly half a century.

Autonomous Flying Cars to Decongest Roads

After conducting successful tests, Dubai’s RTA is preparing to launch the first flight by next July. If Ehang’s self-piloted aircraft is ready to be rolled out in Dubai, there are other projects around the world at early developing stages.

Airbus, via its project Vahana, is developing its own self-piloted aircraft designed for single flights. Still a prototype, Airbus’s goal is to test Vahana in 2017 and start production by 2021.

Roads impact the environment negatively but still remain indispensable in any reliable and efficient transportation system. In the future, roadway usage will have to be adapted to traffic and environmental concerns. Perhaps it will become a relic as flying cars transport us everywhere we need to go.

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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