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Chinese startup to launch the first flying taxi drone

Le EHang 184, premier drone-taxi volant devrait décoller au-dessus de Dubaï © Ehang Inc.

Le EHang 184, premier drone-taxi volant devrait décoller au-dessus de Dubaï © Ehang Inc.

Remember the flying cars in Back to the Future, Blade Runner or the Fifth Element ? Well, drone-taxi could soon be allowed to operate in (above) Dubai, making Sci-Fi our new reality.

What if, in order to get to your favorite restaurant in the city, you could avoid spending 45 minutes in traffic congestion and just hop on a drone to fly over the city ? Well, good news, that might be possible soon in Dubai (this year !), and maybe everywhere else in the world in the coming years.

First trials in Dubai and Nevada

A Chinese startup, EHang Inc., is now testing its fully-automated drone, and working hard to get approval from regulators all around the world to start a real “flying taxi” business. So far, Dubai and the State of Nevada have agreed to look into the potential of the vehicle.

“We will start mass production of our passenger drones at the beginning of next year,” Hu said. “We also plan to install fully automated production lines to enlarge manufacturing capacity in 2018.”

A fully-automated navigation system

The E-184 can fly thanks to four battery-powered propellers, a fully-automated navigation system, and has a cruising speed of up to 100 kilometres an hour. It has a flight autonomy of 25 minutes.

Many other international groups are working on autonomous aircraft projects, such as Airbus, Intel or Bell Helicopter, but it seems like the Chinese start-up could take the lead !