DUBAI: Flying cars have long been the stuff of an imagined sci-fi future — but the technology is real and is set for launch in Dubai as early as July, it emerged on Monday.
The city’s transport boss, speaking at the World Government Summit (WGS), played a video showing an autonomous aerial vehicle zooming through the skies above Dubai, saying that tests of the flying cars are ongoing.
Mattar Al-Tayer, director general of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), said that Dubai aims to be a leader in driverless technology by 2030.
The RTA is currently testing an autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) in cooperation with the Ehang Company of China, he said.
“The AAV on display at the World Government Summit is not just a model but it has really flown in Dubai skies. RTA will spare no effort to launch the AAV in July 2017,” Al-Tayer said.
The “flying car” resembles a giant drone, with eight propellers, and was seen in the video carrying one passenger. It can carry a weight of 100kg and cargo the size of a small suitcase.
Al-Tayer said driverless vehicles, minibuses and boats are being trialled in Dubai; the second phase of the Dubai Tram will have fully driverless trams; and a study has been commissioned on the deployment of driverless express shuttle buses and taxis.
“Autonomous mobility… technology has been tested in several countries including Dubai, Singapore, the United States and Britain. The Government of Dubai is leading the transition to driverless mobility in Dubai and is planning to take a leading position worldwide in autonomous mobility by 2030, whereas in other cities and countries, it is the private sector that leads the process,” Al-Tayer said.
“Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, has launched the Dubai Smart Autonomous Mobility Strategy where 25 percent of all journeys in Dubai would be transformed into driverless journeys by 2030. We anticipate that the percentage of journeys that would be made by the driverless Dubai Metro to reach 12.2% by 2030 compared with 8.8% in 2016. We anticipate that the percentage of journeys made by autonomous buses to reach 6.4% by 2030.”
Al-Tayer told the World Government Summit that Dubai has carved out a “nifty niche” for itself in the development of driverless technology.
“Dubai has also started the test run of driverless minibuses, vehicles and boats, besides considering the options of deploying driverless express shuttle buses, and taxicabs from some leading companies,” he said