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These people-carrying drones will be cruising the skies by July

Published Feb 13th, 2017 8:03PM EST
flying cars
Image: EHang

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Science fiction from the 1940s and 50s might have predicted we’d all have our very own personal flying cars by now, but back here in reality things are a bit different. Still, with Airbus, Uber, and others expressing some serious interest in creating personal sky vehicles for the world to use, it’s clear that the flying car promise wasn’t a total farce. In fact, Dubai might actually make autonomous flying vehicles a common sight as soon as this summer, and the city’s transportation authority just revealed that it’s been testing a self-driving, single passenger quadcopter from Chinese company EHang.

Dubai’s head of transportation, Mattar al-Tayer, says the city will be “making every effort to start the operation of the autonomous aerial vehicle in July 2017,” and that the program would hopefully help remove some of the traffic burden which is causing a problem in the city of nearly three million.

The EHang 184 is built by the Chinese company that shares its name, and has been in development for many years. The vehicle, which is a single-seat drone-like contraption with four arms carrying a pair of propellers each, has a maximum payload capacity of 220lbs. It has a top speed of just over 35mph and a maximum cruising time of about 25 minutes, giving it a range of somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 miles.

Dubai hasn’t revealed anything in regards to how large its initial fleet of flying taxis might be, or the cost of building and growing the program. Human-sized drones that carry you from place to place obviously aren’t cheap, but if there’s one city that can afford it, it’s probably the same one that built a snowy ski hill in the middle of the desert and has its own man made islands.