Dubai Expects Pilotless Drones by Summer

Chinese-made vehicle will carry one passenger plus baggage.

Ehang Drone
Dubai plans to incorporate the Ehang 184 computer-operated drone into its transportation system.Ehang Inc.

Look out, Uber and Airbus, two companies already on record as seriously involved in efforts to offer pilotless drones to transport people around urban areas. Enter the city of Dubai’s transportation agency, which this week announced plans to offer rides aboard computer-operated drones around the Middle Eastern city beginning this July. Dubai’s head of transportation said the city has already been testing the UAV around the city.

Dubai expects to use the Chinese-made Ehang 184, a four-propeller drone capable of trips as long as 31 miles. The electrically powered vehicle, with a top speed of 61 mph, will carry a single passenger along with 220 pounds of baggage. When not flying, the drone taxi’s propellers fold away to allow the vehicle to fit nicely inside a standard parking space.

The Ehang 184 is equipped with a fail-safe system that prompts the vehicle to land in the nearest safe location should anything malfunction through the vehicle’s encrypted communications channels. Passengers will summon their Ehang taxis with a smartphone app similar to one being planned by Uber.