RTA announces plans for self-driving and flying cars

25 percent of all journeys, including flying cars, set to be autonomous by 2030


The RTA has announced its plans for self-driving public transport over the coming decade, and they look extremely exciting.

According to state news agency WAM, Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the RTA, approved plans to transform 25 percent of all transport journeys in Dubai to autonomous vehicles by 2030. In short, robotic cars and flying cars will be driving passengers through the city without need for human drivers.

To make the dream a reality, the RTA is seeking development of legislation and rules for self-driving transport, as well as the supporting infrastructure for testing and licensing of self-driving vehicles. One of the biggest hurdles will be accounting for the unique requirements of each city, and Al Tayer told WAM that it is currently addressing the infrastructural requirements of a city like Dubai.

So what does the strategy consist of? Well, clearly self-driving buses and other forms of transport will be one of the principal technologies involved, but Dubai and ride-hailing app Uber have also been hard at work on making flying cars a reality.

Although it seems a little while off just now, it’s likely that Expo 2020 will be seen as the point at which the self-driving transport industry really kicked off. Self-driving, flying cars will be demonstrated at the turn-of-the-decade festival of everything there is going on in the world, as the first working model, named EHANG184, is nearing completion.

Brilliantly, a passenger ride with Uber Elevate will cost roughly US$1.32 (Dhs4.85) per passenger mile, which is pretty much the same as UberX costs at the moment, and is set to shrink further as the technology develops.

Separately, Uber is also working on creating designated landing pads for the autonomous aerial vehicles (AAV), across Dubai but also Dallas in Texas. If Amazon’s drone delivery service is anything to go by, it’s likely that Uber’s cars will feature machine vision technology which basically means it can locate its landing zone without the need of human assistance.

With the RTA’s Al Tayer confirming this technology shift across the city will be ongoing throughout the next decade and beyond, it’s exciting to think what travelling around Dubai might be like come 2030.

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