Dubai set to roll out 'flying cars' this July

Dubai set to roll out 'flying cars' this July
An EHang 184 autonomous personal helicopter is displayed during the 2017 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
PHOTO: AFP

Get ready for it - flying cars are set to become a reality, at least in the bustling city of Dubai.

The emirate's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced plans to launch driverless flying cars by this summer.

USA Today reported that Mattar al-Tayer, the head of Dubai's RTA, said it wants to develop passenger-carrying drones as a way to move people around the United Arab Emirates' biggest city. The report added that flights could begin as early as July.

The giant human-carrying drone was developed by Chinese drone maker, EHang, which unveiled its invention at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Monday (Feb 13), according to The Daily Mail.

Dubbed 184, the drone is reportedly the first of its kind and a prototype was shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last June, said the BBC.

The BBC added that the 184 has a flight time of 23 minutes and is completely autonomous - which means all passengers need to do is enter their destination on a touchscreen in front of their seat and sit back.

Although a Daily Mail report mentioned that there is no way of controlling the egg-shaped craft remotely, the BBC said the drone will land in the nearest available area if something goes wrong mid-air.

George Yan, co-founder of EHang, told the Daily Mail: "You know how it feels to sit in a Ferrari? This is 10 times better."

Fancy.

Dubai isn't the only city curious about giving this drone a go. The Las Vegas city of Nevada wants to take a gamble (pun intended) as well.

In fact, the city was given the green light in June 2016 to test out the world's first passenger drone, The Guardian reported.

Mark Barker, business development director of The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, told local publication The Las Vegas Review Journal: "I personally look forward to the day when drone taxis are part of Nevada's transportation system."

However, it looks like Dubai might beat them to that.

Al-Tayer told the Associated Press that they have already "experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai's skies".

If you're planning a visit to the emirate this summer, look past the skyscrapers and you might just spot a passenger drone.

ssandrea@sph.com.sg

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