The world’s first flying taxis will be introduced in the UAE in July 2017, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced on Monday.
The announcement was made to global leaders at the World Government Summit in Dubai, where a model of the copter-like taxi was on display:
“The AAV on display at the World Government Summit is not just a model but it has really flown in Dubai skies. RTA will spare no effort to launch the AAV in July 2017,” said Mattar Al Tayer, chairman of the board and executive director of the RTA.
The copter-like Dubai Drone Taxi will be able to withstand all weather conditions, except thunderstorms, and will be reasonably priced, RTA told Inc. Arabia.
“The tariffs have not yet been decided,” he said, “Nothing in Dubai is expensive.”
During the presentation a video demonstrating the first test run and instructions on the vehicle’s operation was played to the audience.
The flying taxis were developed in collaboration with Chinese Company, EHANG, and tested under the supervision of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, RTA said.
They will be capable of carrying one passenger, who operates the drone using a touchscreen infront of their seat to select their desired location from a map displaying places in the form of dots.
The passenger is then automatically whisked to their destination according to the preset routes, which are monitored and controlled by a ground control station connected to the vehicle by 4G.
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Al Tayer dismissed the possibility of safety issues and technical malfunctions:
“We have addressed the highest levels of security in the designing and manufacturing of the EHANG184.
The vehicle is fitted with eight main propellers, where each propeller would operate at a time.
“In case of any failure in the first propeller, there would be seven other propellers ready to complete the flight and a smooth landing,” he said.
The drone taxi is designed to fly for maximum 30 minutes can cruise at a maximum of 160 km/h, with a standard speed of 100 km/h, Al Tayer said.
The taxi touches down at 6 meters per second and lands at 4m/s.
The drones will be seen flying at a maximum of 3000 feet in the sky and in all weather conditions, except a thunderstorm, RTA said. The battery life is designed to last 1-2 hours, and is fitted with powerful sensors for landing and navigation.
The introduction of the Dubai Drone Taxi is in line with Dubai’s mobility strategy for 25% of all journeys to be driverless by 2030, Al Tayer said.
“The journey on an autonomous vehicle will soon be like boarding a lift,” he said.
“All of us trust the closed box that lifts us to different levels as we know it is secure, ready and tested. This is what the RTA is seeking to achieve through autonomous mobility strategy and associated initiatives.”
Also speaking on the second day of the summit, CEO of Tesla car company and Founder of SpaceX space systems, Elon Musk told a panel discussion that the world would make its transition to driverless cars overnight:
“Self-driving will be on the roads before you know it. It will happen much faster than anyone expects,” he said.
The World Government Summit will be held from March 12-14 in Dubai.