Forget driverless cars for now and imagine personal flying vehicles, autonomous aerial vehicles or in English — flying cars. One might be thinking of concept vehicles or testing human-sized flying drones, but in Dubai, you might see passenger-carrying flying cars soon.
Mattar al-Tayer, chief of Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Agency, revealed during the World Government Summit that they are looking to push for regular operations of PFVs as early as July 2017.
"This is not only a model. We have actually experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai's skies," al-Tayer said.
Al-Tayer is not referring to anything close to the flying cars you remember “The Jetsons” for, but a drone called EHang 184 made in China. Transportation authorities reported that the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority has inspected the autonomous aerial vehicle which was controlled via 4G mobile internet.
Meet EHang 184
The Emirati city has collaborated with the makers of EHang 184, an egg-shaped drone that looks like a giant quadcopter fit to transport humans, to test the possibilities of a transportation alternative in Dubai.
Al-Tayer revealed that EHang 184 has been buzzing around the Burj al-Arab hotel. However, he did not disclose if the PFV has been transporting passengers. He also did not reveal details of its possible regular operations soon.
EHang 184 is a single-person mode of transport with a race-car style seat. It can carry a passenger weighing 220 pounds, plus an 18-inch backpack.
EHang 184 In Action: Specs, Features And Fail-Safe System
The passenger of EHang 184 does not need to worry about controlling the craft. One only needs to input the destination onto the drone’s touchscreen, sit back and relax. The operation of the drone will be monitored remotely from a control room.
The drone has a flight time of 30 minutes and a range of 31 miles. In terms of speed, it does not come close to a Concorde, of course, but it’s fast enough. According to transportation authorities, it will most likely be limited to 62 mph but a stock drone can actually hit a top speed of 100 mph.
EHang 184 weighs about 240 kg or about 530 pounds. It uses eight motors with a maximum output of 152 KW. It is designed to fly at a maximum altitude of 3,500 meters or roughly 2 miles. Its main frame is constructed using reinforced composite material while other components are made of aerial aluminum alloy.
Wondering what will happen if something goes wrong while in the air? EHang 184 has a fail-safe system that will make sure you will land safely in the nearest possible area.
“The 184 AAV has embedded with Ehang fail safe system. If any components malfunction or disconnect, the aircraft will immediately land in the nearest possible area to ensure safety. The communication is encrypted and each AAV has its independent key,” the company’s website states.
EHang 184 was unwrapped during CES 2016 and was tested in Nevada. Watch this video to see the passenger drone in action: