The taxi drones are part of a wider initiative to make 25% of all passenger journeys in Dubai be carried out in autonomous vehicles by 2030 and to make the emirate the smartest city in the world.

The emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced during the fifth annual World Government Summit that autonomous self-driving drones will be launched this summer in Dubai. The flying taxis are manufactured by Chinese firm Ehang, and RTA has already carried out the first testrun of an eight-rotor autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) capable of carrying a human, the Ehang 184, which was shown flying in Dubai in a video that created buzz on social media. The flying car was exhibited at the World Government Summit and is fitted with a touchscreen to the front of the passenger and the passenger selects his or her intended destination from preset routes. The Ehang 184 is capable of carrying a single human along with their bag, and flying without human direction. A single journey may last up to 23 minutes.

The AAV is designed to be secure and has a ‘fail-system’ and upon detection of a malfunction, it lands in the nearest location. It also communicates via encrypted channels.

Mattar Al Tayer, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA, said: “The trial run of the first AAV is in implementation of the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform Dubai into the smartest city in the world.”

The flying taxi is part of a wider initiative to make 25% of all passenger journeys in Dubai be carried out in autonomous vehicles by 2030.