Human Transport Drone


Courtesy of BGR

Neil Bondoc, Photojournalist

Dubai has made a habit of pushing the transportation envelope, and its latest ambitions are literally sky high.

Dubai’s transportation agency chief announced Monday at the World Government Summit that human-ferrying drones would begin transporting people across the city’s iconic skyline in July, according to the Associated Press. the government has “actually experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai’s skies” already, Mattar al-Tayer told the Associated Press. It was not clear how much each ride will cost. The drone can carry a single passenger weighing up to 220 pounds and a small suitcase for 30 minutes. The traveler climbs into the drone and inputs a destination within 31 miles, then takes to the sky at a speed of 62 mph. The drone is monitored via a control room.


The drone takes off from and lands at predetermined points and uses a camera to ensure a safe landing. If the drone malfunctions or disconnects from 4G mobile service, it promises to land immediately at the nearest safe location, the company says. The drone is the brainchild of a Chinese company called EHang and was trotted out to spectators at the International CES technology show in January last year. The following July, officials in Nevada revealed plans to begin testing the drone with hopes of eventually winning the approval of federal regulators.


The drone is the latest example of how the government of Dubai has jumped on new technology to shuttle people in the city. Officials there have begun working on a Hyperloop high-speed highway that could propel people and cargo in floating capsules at airplane-like speeds. EHang isn’t the first personalized air transport in Dubai. Uber offered a helicopter service during the Grand Prix auto race there in November 2015 at a price of $600 per seat. The company has since partnered with a tour company to provide Uber Chopper service.


Officials from EHang say all movements and functions of the drone will be monitored by people in a “Command and Control Center” on the ground around the drone. The person inside the aircraft will also be able to communicate with the command center if needed. Last year, EHang signed an agreement with officials in the western state of Nevada to conduct test flights of the EHang 184. Nevada operates a testing center in cooperation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA. The goal is to get FAA approval for the EHang 184 to fly in the United States.