World's first self-flying drone taxi takes off in Dubai

The world’s first self-flying taxi has lifted off in Dubai.

The Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) made its maiden flight over the city, taking to the air close to the Jumeirah Beach Park.

The two-seater vehicle has 18 rotors that run on electricity, and can fly autonomously or using a joystick.

In case of airborne emergencies, it’s also fitted with a parachute.

The drone can currently complete journeys that take no longer than 30 minutes, and has a top speed of 62 mph.

The take-off was witnessed by Dubai’s Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed.


HH Sheikh Hamdan said: ‘After the remarkable success of the first driverless metro in the region, we are glad to witness today the test flight of the Autonomous Air Taxi.

‘This is another testament to our commitment to driving positive change. We are constantly exploring opportunities to serve the community and advance the prosperity and happiness of society.’

The drone isn’t currently available for commercial journeys, but the city is hoping to have a fleet of self-flying taxis available by 2022.

Before then, the vehicle will undergo five years of rigorous testing to ensure it meets stringent safety standards.

Dubai aims to make 25% of its passenger transport completely autonomous by the year 2030.

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Analysts said earlier this month that the introduction of driverless cars could encourage people to drink more.

Morgan Stanley assessed the risks associated with autonomous vehicles, and found that an increase in alcohol consumption could be an unexpected side effect as fewer people take on the role of ‘designated driver’.

In August, the UK government announced plans to trial fleets of self-driving lorries on UK roads by the end of 2018.

The plan involves introducing ‘platoons’ of three vehicles, where the rear two will be able to steer themselves but their braking and acceleration will effectively be controlled by the lead lorry which will have a human driver.

This effectively allows all three vehicles to travel much closer together which in turn reduces their aerodynamic drag and increases their fuel efficiency.

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