Dubai plans July launch of passenger drones as airborne taxis

Dubai plans July launch of passenger drones as airborne taxis

High flyers may soon have a new way to get around Dubai, swapping taxis for one-person drones buzzing through the sky.

They may look like an oversized version of the typical drone, but they're far more sophisticated – and capable of carrying one passenger and a (very) small suitcase.

But you won't need to bother about flying the drone yourself: it's all done via remote control from a sophisticated command centre.

Just swing open the gull-wing door, buckle yourself into the F1-style seat, fire up the airconditioning, tap your destination on the touchscreen and let this eight-rotor 'autonomous personal transportation vehicle' do the rest.

Built by Chinese firm EHang, the model 184 – which was named for ‘one’ passenger, ‘eight’ propellers, and ‘four’ arms – has already made some trial runs around Dubai and according to Mattar Al Tayer, the head of Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, is on track to begin a commercial service by July.

The EHang 184 can fly up to 50km or about 30 minutes at around 100km/h, although it can redline at 160km/h if you're in a rush.

But with a price tag of between $260,000 and $390,000 per unit, EHang also sees opportunities for the 184 as a private drone for the well-heeled.

The four arms, when folded into the body, allow the drone to occupy the same size parking space as a mid-sized sedan.

The Dubai government is also examining the use of the Hyperloop superfast train-in-a-tube technology to link the city to Abu Dhabi, and also shift container cargo from the Jebel Ali seaport to an inland hub.

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

7 comments

  • Satoshi Takayama

    Michael Kao

    3 Jun, 2017 12:21 pm

    I'm not sure if I'm ready to hop into one of this when the reliability hasn't been tested. If one of this has a malfunction and you crash, the chance of survival would be much lower than an unmanned car....
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  • Poisson

    Poisson

    3 Jun, 2017 01:54 pm

    I'd like to see the propellers shielded - this looks like a leg-slicer for the unwary.  
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  • Serg

    Serg

    4 Jun, 2017 01:20 pm

    Chinese made remotely controlled drone? Thanks, not for me.
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  • Dredgy

    Dredgy

    4 Jun, 2017 05:16 pm

    Considering the best and most reliable consumer and professional drones (DJI) are Chinese designed and made, that's the dream.
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  • Serg

    Serg

    4 Jun, 2017 08:34 pm

    Do you love Chinese made watches? Do you drive Chinese made Great Wall? Do you like fly to Europe in Chinese made aircraft? And you suggest me put my a$$ into remote controlled Chinese made drone? Please enjoy it by yourself.
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  • Dredgy

    Dredgy

    4 Jun, 2017 08:50 pm

    I was being facetious, but coincidentally my watch is Chinese and has worked fine for nearly 10 years. I would also fly to Europe on a Chinese airliner if they ever get the C919 approved, and I know lots of people who have Great Wall utes. I am not pathologically afraid of Chinese-made things...

    I also remotely fly Chinese drones all the time with 10s of thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment attached and not crashed yet (they are hard to crash, even if you try).

    I'll be interested to see if Dubai actually gets this running, and if they do, I'll be happy to give it a test for you :)
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  • Serg

    Serg

    4 Jun, 2017 09:38 pm

    Obviously we have different approaches to our lives :-)))
    ONLY Chinese made watch that I have is Casio fully digital watch that I bought for close to $100 (sic!). They running for 10 years or so without any problems and running out like 1/2 minute per day. I have fully mechanical Swiss made watch that running out 2 seconds per day. Also I have Swiss made quartz watch that running out 2 seconds per month. I have not try Great Wall and not intend to do so anytime soon. We have different approach to our lives :-)))
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Guest

19 Jul, 2019 10:11 am

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