A drone that can carry people will begin "regular operations" in Dubai from July, the head of the city's Roads and Transportation Agency has announced at the World Government Summit. The Chinese model eHang 184 has already had test flights, said Matt al-Tayer. The drone can carry one passenger weighing up to 100 kg (220 pounds) and has a 30 minute flight time. The passenger uses a touch screen to select a destination. There are no other controls inside the craft.
There are quite a few companies working on developing drones for human transportation, but a new one has just jumped into the fray. With an almost fully developed prototype and plans to start producing them commercially next year, the aptly named Passenger Drone introduced itself by showing off a manned flight on its first prototype. The company has been quietly working on its tech for the last three years and it has produced a lightweight, car-sized drone that can fly autonomously, be maneuvered remotely or be controlled manually. It's lifted by 16 rotors and produces zero emissions. Passenger Drone says it plans to build five more prototypes and log over 1000 hours of flight time before proceeding with commercial production.
There have been concerns from different quarters regarding the safety of drones and their uses, with different voices having contributed to this debate. There is a consensus, however, that there is need for policing and regulating policies to ensure that drones do not expose people and countries to danger. Last year, an unmanned autonomous vehicle was spotted flying towards a passenger airplane flight 366 causing different groups to come together and work with the industry, the White House and various universities to develop rules and regulations on the use of drones. And while these rules and regulations are necessary, stakeholders also agree that it is crucial to provide a policy for drone technology in the national air space. "There's tremendous personal responsibility, and you need to educate yourself before you open the box and start to operate an airframe like this," Keith Kaplan, CEO of Tesla Foundation and representative of UAV System Association, was quoted as saying.
A drone nearly hit a passenger jet preparing to land in Los Angeles on Friday afternoon. The Los Angeles Times reported that a Lufthansa A380-800 jet was 14 miles away from LAX Airport and traveling at 5,000ft when the drone flew 200 feet above the aircraft. The pilot was readying the aircraft to land when the incident occurred. Aviation experts fear that drones--which are prohibited from flying higher than 400 feet--could cause a plane to lose an engine if they are sucked in. Local police are now searching for the owner of the drone.