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Dubai Will Get Self-Flying Taxis This Year

Bypass traffic with the taxi of the future

The taxi of the future doesn't drive—it flies. (EHANG)
smithsonian.com

Flying cars have long been the the hallmark of a not-yet-realized fantastical future. And though it seems we are not there yet, you may want to fasten your seatbelts: As Leslie Josephs reports for Quartz, Dubai will offer self-flying taxis by July.

Okay, so they're not what you might think of as a car—rather, the taxis are drones that propel themselves and a single passenger up to 31 miles at a speed of over 99 miles per hour. But the vehicles might just usher in an era of road-less travel. The announcement came during a government summit in Dubai that was, in part, devoted to the future of traffic.

Dubai’s plan is futuristic indeed: In a release, the city’s transportation authority writes that the city plans to make a full 25 percent of its travel autonomous by the year 2030. The taxis are part of that plan. Called the EHANG 184, they are produced in China. The electric craft can fly to a single point designated by the passenger once they enter the vehicle.

On its website, EHANG writes that the automated vehicles are prevented from taking off during severe weather and that they can fly for up to 25 minutes with a payload as heavy as 220 pounds. However, Engadget reports that the craft has been updated and can now fly for five more minutes and hold 40 more pounds. They include air conditioners and a futuristic-looking seat—not to mention the potential for spectacular views of the United Arab Emirates’ most populous city.

The taxis have already been tested in Dubai, reports Josephs, and the city is all about the travel of the future with a driverless metro and  plans to study a potential future hyperloop system.

How much will the taxis cost? How will Dubai manage hailing and fares? Those details are unclear. But one thing is: The future (kind of) has arrived.

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