Dubai tests world 1st manned autonomous flying vehicle

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), in collaboration with the Chinese EHANG Company, has carried out the world’s first test run of an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) capable of carrying a human.
The RTA is set to start the operation of the AAV as early as July this year.
The RTA is set to start the operation of the AAV as early as July this year.

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The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), in collaboration with the Chinese EHANG Company, has carried out the world’s first test run of an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) capable of carrying a human.

The RTA is set to start the operation of the AAV as early as July this year. The craft is fitted with a touchscreen at the front of the passenger seat displaying a map of all destinations in the form of dots, enabling the occupant to fly along pre-set routes.

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The AAV is able to take off, cruise and land on its own.

“The trial run of the first AAV is part of the Dubai Self-driving Transport Strategy aimed at transforming 25% of total individual trips in Dubai into Self-driving trips using various modes of transport by 2030,” said Mattar Al Tayer, director general and chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA.

“The AAV exhibited at the World Government Summit is not just a model; it is a real version that we have already tested in the Dubai skies. The RTA is making every effort to start the operation of the AAV in July 2017,” he added.

The AAV is fitted with eight propellers that are autonomously operated individually by the on-board computer. EHANG the company that produced the AAV, said in a statement that if any of the propellers were to fail, the other seven would be able to safely navigate and land the craft.

“The AAV is fitted with numerous basic systems all in operation at the same time, though independently. In case of any malfunctioning in one of these systems, the standby system would be capable of controlling and safely steering the AAV to the programmed landing point,” explains Al Tayer.

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The AAV is designed to fly for a maximum of 30 minutes at a maximum cruising speed of 160 km/h, and the standard speed will be 100 km/h. The ascending/descending speed is about 6 meters per second and the landing speed is 4m/s.

The AAV measures 3.9 m in length, 4.02 m in width and 1.60 m in height. It weighs about 250 kg and 360 with a passenger. The maximum cruising height is 3000 feet and the battery charging time is 1-2 hours.

The AAV is designed to operate under all climatic conditions unless there is a thunderstorm. The vehicle is fitted with highly accurate sensors with a very low-error threshold and can resist vibrations and extreme temperatures.

“Dubai Civil Aviation Authority was a partner in our trials defining the safety criteria required, issuing the permits for trial and inspecting the vehicle, the RTA appreciates their contribution. Etisalat had contributed as well to the success of the test run of the AAV in its capacity as a prime network provider,” said Al Tayer.

The 4G data network is used in communication between the AAV and the ground control center. Etisalat had also provided the support needed to ensure the continued communication between the AAV and the Control Center through M2M and LTE technologies, according to Al Tayer.

He noted that the successful operation of the AAV is considered a big step towards innovative and smart mobility solutions for reducing city traffic congestions.

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