Drone Taxi’s launch this summer in Dubai
The Dubai Roads and Transport Authorities announced that it will launch the Drone Taxi service in the Summer of this year. The “Remote Controlled”, Single Passenger, Electric Drones can carry a payload of 100Kg plus a small passenger bag of reasonable weight at a speed of 100 Miles for 30 minutes. After buckling into drone seat, the airborne vehicle’s passenger selects a destination on a touch-screen pad in front of the seat and the drone flies to the destination automatically.
When the ruling family decrees that a quarter of all journeys in a city-state will be autonomous by 2030, someone somewhere is obliged to make that start happening as soon as possible.
In Dubai, that person is Mattar Al Tayer, chairman of the city’s Road and Transport Authority. He said Monday that he hopes Dubai will have autonomous taxi drones zipping around its skyline this summer. Actual drones that people can sit inside without fearing for their lives.
The flying taxis are being manufactured by Chinese drone-making firm EHang and can carry a person weighing up to 100 kilogrammes (about 220 pounds) along with a small suitcase. Passengers don’t need to learn how to fly the drones, EHang’s co-founder Derrick Xiong told FORBES staff writer Aaron Tilley in an interview this time last year.
“They just need to press a button, and then it vertically takes off, flies from point A to point B and lands.”
The drones have a range of 30 kilometres (19 miles), travelling at around 60 mph, and are “on track to take off within months,” Al Tayer said.
“I am glad to inform you that hopefully, we will be able to have these drones available, starting July 2017,” he added at the World Government Summit, a gathering of tech and government leaders at Dubai.
That “hopefully” from Al Tayer is an important hedge to make for a product that, it appears, has not yet officially taken flight with paying customers anywhere else in the world.
In fact, when EHang unveiled its drone taxi at the Consumer Electronics Show a year ago in January 2016, its “demo video” of the autonomous vehicle soaring over snowcapped mountains and the San Francisco skyline turned out to be computer generated.
FORBES writer Ryan Mac noted then that EHang was one of several drone companies who had overhyped their ability to commercialise a futuristic product.
The latest video of the EHang 184 (above) which was shown in Dubai this week, shows a well-groomed business executive putting a briefcase into the drone and then folding himself into the sports-car-like interior. Notably, the video doesn’t show him in the drone when it flies up towards the clouds.
EHang, based in Guangzhou, China and with offices in San Carlos, Calif., has raised some $53 million to date according to PitchBook data, and its investors include GGV Capital and Golden Partners Capital. It’s website, www.ghost-drone.com, did not appear to be accessible on Tuesday.
The EHang 184 is part of a wider initiative that Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced in April 2016: that he wanted 25% of all passenger journeys in Dubai to be carried out in autonomous vehicles by 2030.
Since then, the city’s officials has struck a deal with Hyperloop One to study the possibility of building a Hyperloop line that connects Dubai to Abu Dhabi. In September 2016 a driverless shuttle called the EZ10, made by French company EasyMile began running a 700-meter trial route on Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard.