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Dubai skyline, soon to include cars. © Michael Theis/Flickr
Dubai skyline, soon to include cars. © Michael Theis/Flickr

Driverless, Flying Cars Headed to Dubai’s Skies This Summer

Picture of Peter Ward
Tech Editor
Updated: 22 February 2017

Dubai, like many other cities, can suffer from some pretty horrendous traffic congestion. And the city has seemingly come up with a solution straight out of the Back to the Future handbook – flying, self-driving, cars.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority announced it had carried out a first test run of an autonomous aerial vehicle, the EHANG184, built by Chinese company EHANG. The transport chiefs of the emirate said that the driverless flying car will be in operation as early as July.

The EHANG 184 is basically an automated drone large enough for a human to ride in. The vehicle has a touchscreen display in front of the passenger seat showing all the destinations it can fly to. All of the routes are preset and the driver selects where to go using the display. Once a destination has been chosen, the vehicle takes off, makes its way there, and lands without any input from the passenger. A ground control monitors and controls the entire operation.

Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the RTA said: “The trial run of the first AAV is in implementation of the directives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform Dubai into the smartest city in the world.”

The vehicle can reportedly reach speeds of up to 100 miles per hour (160 kilometers per hour) and can fly 31 miles (50km) on one battery charge.

The Emirate recently launched an initiative to push autonomous vehicle adoption, aiming to transform 25 percent of all journeys in Dubai into driverless trips by 2030. That does include the Dubai Metro however, the monorail which runs through the city and doesn’t require any drivers. “Dubai has also started the test run of driverless mini-buses, vehicles and boats, besides considering the options of deploying driverless express shuttle buses, and taxicabs from some leading companies,” Al Tayer said.