Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), in collaboration with the Chinese EHANG Company, on Monday announced that it had carried out the first test run of an autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) capable of carrying a human, a world first.
RTA said in a statement that it is set to start the operation of the AAV, named EHANG184 - effectively a driverless flying car - as early as July.
The statement said the EHANG184 vehicle is fitted with a touchscreen to the front of the passenger seat displaying a map of all destinations in the form of dots.
It has preset routes from which the rider chooses a destination. The vehicle will then start automatically, take off and cruise to the set destination before descending and landing in a specific spot.
A ground control centre will monitor and control the entire operation, the RTA added.
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.
"It is also part of RTA’s endeavours to provide self-driving transport through engaging in the technological tests of self-driving vehicles under Dubai environment."
Al Tayer added that the vehicle is fitted with eight main propellers, and in case of any failure in the first propeller, there would be seven other propellers ready to complete the flight.
The AAV is designed to fly for a maximum of 30 minutes at a maximum cruising speed of 160km/h and a maximum cruising height of 3,000 feet. It is designed to operate under all climatic conditions apart from thunderstorms.
Dubai Civil Aviation Authority issued the permits for the trial while Etisalat provided the 4G data network used to communicate between the AAV and the ground control centre.