In 2016, the ruling family in Dubai decreed that 25% of journeys into the city state will be smart and driverless by 2030.
In fact, Mattar al-Tayer, chairman of Dubai’s Road & Transport Authority has announced that drone taxis will be up and running as early as this summer.
At the World Government Summit, a gathering of technology and government leaders at Dubai, Al Tayer said, “I am glad to inform you that hopefully we will be able to have these drones available, starting July 2017.” The Associated Press has reported that test flights of the EHang 184 passenger drone have already been done from Dubai’s Burj Al-Arab skyscraper. “This is not only a model,” al-Tayer added. “We have actually experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai’s skies.”
The opinion of Douglas McNeill, a senior analyst at consultancy Macquarie, is that the leap to consumers accepting the taxi drones is “a long way off”. He did add that, “Consumers are led by what regulators say are safe. And if they say these drones are safe, people might be more willing.”
Dr Mirko Kovac, director of the Aerial Robotics Lab at Imperial College London, believes that drones have “huge potential” and that “They can decrease congestion, offer flights in challenging environments and in developing countries where the road infrastructure is not as developed.” He also added, “We don’t even think about large aircraft flying over large cities on autopilot.”
As for other self-driving vehicles, the United States, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., announced in February that self-driving vehicle technology would be getting a boost to reach its “full potential”.
While many car companies are bringing semi-autonomous vehicles which allow for some human control to market, full automation is likely not far behind. The Boston Consulting Group has said that by 2035, they predict that more than 12 million fully autonomous units will be sold a year worldwide.
The senators wrote, “Left on its own, the slow pace of regulation could become a significant obstacle to the development of new and safer vehicle technology in the United States,” and “We are particularly interested in ways to improve regulatory flexibility for testing and development of self-driving vehicles without changes to regulations that would affect conventional autos.”
In trucking, some experts are estimating that self-driving semi-trucks could be on the roads in 10 years. Arik Spencer from the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association believes that self-driving vehicle technology will soon make its way to big rigs in a state where the oil industry relies on a strong trucking industry. “Everyone’s thinking about it. It’s just a matter of how this unfolds in the future,” Spencer said.