Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Drone taxis

Coming this summer to... where else?
There’s been lots of talk in recent years about self-driving cars. Now, it appears as if self-flying passenger drones are next -- and they could flying in one major city as soon as this July. 
That’s according to a plan revealed Monday in Dubai, where the head of the Dubai Roads and Transportation Authority said it wants to develop passenger-carrying drones as a way to move people around the United Arab Emirates’ biggest city. Officials said flights could begin in July, though few other details were offered.
The Associated Press reports the drone type being pursued for Dubai’s passenger service is the Chinese-made EHang 184, “an egg-shaped craft with four legs sticking out, each with two small propellers.”
The drone, which can travel about 30 miles on a single battery charge, would be completely automated. Passengers would select a destination on a touch screen in front of the seat; the drone’s flight would be monitored remotely from a control room staffed with Dubai RTA personnel and the passenger would have no control over the drone.

That sounds a bit scary, but according to the co-founder of EHang the drone will have software that calculates the most optimal route for the passenger and avoids collisions with other drones. It will also have back-up systems to take over in the case of any primary system failures. Truth be told, these drone taxis might end up being safer than Dubai’s regular taxis!

One problem with the drones (aside from the cost of the fare, which is likely to be substantial) is that they can only carry a person weighing up to 220 pounds. Which means that my fat ass is going to have to lose some weight before I can get in one.

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