The idea of flying cars has been around since the 19th century, when William Samuel Henson and John Stringfellow patented the monoplane. A century later, people actually saw a car with wings called the ConVairCar, though it crashed shortly after taking flight. This year, the idea of putting a taxi in the air might come true. Uber has recruited a NASA engineer to make it happen, while a Chinese drone manufacturer convinced Dubai’s transport officials they can unveil one this summer #automagic
Chinese drone manufacturer EHang has been developing for four years now a vehicle that can’t just hover but drive without human assistance, too. The EHang 184 is a single passenger drone with eight propellers that can travel on a programmed course at an altitude of 300 metres (1,000 feet) and at speeds of up to 100 km/h (60 mph). Passengers don’t need a pilot license or any previous experience in air, since the drone takes off at the push of a button on an established course. As an UAV, the drone will be under supervision from a ground command center and will count on a fail-safe system that enables it to land if it detects damage at its components.
Good news is this is a working prototype: “We have already experimented [with] the vehicle in a flight in [the] Dubai sky“, said director general of the Dubai Road and Transport Authority, Mattar al-Tayer. It’s clear that the success of that experiment led to the bold claim that the vehicle will be launched this summer, in July.
Of course, until then nothing is set in stone yet it seems that Dubai’s authorities are inclined to test new technology when it comes to means of transportation. After all, they’re considering the possibility of constructing a near-supersonic rail link from Dubai to the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi by signing on with Hyperloop One. Plus, they plan on transforming a quarter of their transport vehicles in self-driving ones by 2030.
All in all, 2017 might just be the year of flying cars.