The city-states of the United Arab Emirates have gone from small fishing villages to lead the world in futuristic city designs, and their latest plans promise to push the envelope of ultramodern thinking even further.
Continuing their quest to become a scheduled leader in innovation, UAE leaders this week announced plans to become the world’s first city offering flying driverless taxis and a 100-year initiative to build a city on Mars.
Dubai, a city-state in the UAE, plans to launch flying driverless taxis this summer capable of skipping congested roadways and taking to the skies for flights up to 23 minutes long.
The Ehang 184 will be the autonomous drone chosen to be first vehicle in the world to carry passengers through the sky without a pilot, Mattar al-Tayer, head of Dubai’s transportation agency, told the Telegraph.
“This is not only a model, we have actually experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai’s skies.”
The autonomous Ehang drone debuted in Las Vegas last year at the Consumber Electronics Show and last month footage of the vehicle was released last month showing unmanned test flights.
The vehicle looks like an oversized remote control drone with four rotors stationed underneath the body of the craft powered by an electric motor. It’s capable of carrying one person and their bag for about 31 miles at speeds up to 63 mph before having to be recharged.
The drone also comes with a “fail safe” system designed to land the flying taxi if anything goes wrong, Mattar Al Tayer, the director of the emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority told The National.
“In case of any failure in the first propeller, there would be seven other propellers ready to complete the flight and a smooth landing, while mitigating the impact of the fault sustained by the first propeller.”
Passengers can summon the drone much as they would an Uber or Lyft, by entering their destination into an app. The taxi then finds the quickest route and travels there; it can’t just fly anywhere, however, the craft is confined to certain Ehang landing sites.
After landing safely, the Ehang drone fold its propellers inward so it can be stored in a parking space designed for a passenger car.
The driverless drone taxi is part of Dubai’s plan to make a quarter of journeys in the city-state autonomous by 2030 using various methods.
The UAE isn’t stopping with flying driverless taxis, however, this week the country’s ruling family announced a 100-year plan to build a city on Mars set to rival anything Elon Musk can dream up.
The ambitious plan to build a city on Mars was announced this week by the Prime Minister of the UAE and Emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, according to Popular Science.
“‘Mars 2117’ is a seed we are sowing today to reap the fruit of new generations led by a passion for science and advancing human knowledge.”
The 100-year plan is a little short on details, and the sheikh isn’t quite sure how the UAE will reach Mars as the country’s space agency has no rockets of its own, but he’s convinced scholars and experts can be found to overcome the challenge, according to Sputnik News.
“The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality.”
The UAE space agency plans to launch, Mars Hope the Arab world’s first probe to the red planet, by 2020, which is schedule to arrive in 2021, the anniversary of the country’s founding.
Sheikh Maktoum launched the UAE Vision 2021 plan nearly a decade ago with the goal of making his country a world leader in technology and today the nation of city-states is known as a frontrunner in innovation.
[Featured Image by John Locher/AP Images]