The United Arab Emirates have continually shown how deep pocketed they are when it comes to funding engineering endeavor.
In the last year, they impressively printed the world’s very first 3D office, and announced plans to build the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world.
Now, they’re moving on to their mobility engineering strategies. They seem convinced that flying taxis are the future. The country unveiled their intention to use EHang 184 drones as self-driving taxis in the near future. The EHang 184 is said to be the world’s first autonomous aerial vehicle.
The Vice President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, says that by 2030, they hope that 25% of all passenger trips will be achieved in driverless vehicles.
In an interview with Bloomberg Business SpaceX and Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, was dubious; he does not think that flying vehicles will fly – so to speak. He believes they will be a safety disaster. He said: “Obviously, I like flying things, but it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution. If somebody doesn’t maintain their flying car, it could drop a hubcap and guillotine you.”
Musk would rather utilize a tried-and-tested method of curbing congestion in the modern world: tunnels. The idea stemmed from Musk’s annoyance at being stuck in traffic. He tweeted: “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging. It shall be called ‘The Boring Company’.
Another company believes that instead of hailing a cab, people will be hailing a jetpack via our smartphones. BBC News recently interviewed the vice-president of innovation at KuangChi Science. He said “Jetpacks will be part of future cities. I see it as being the Uber of the sky.”
The company is working with a New Zealand based aerospace company, the Martin Aircraft Company. They have manufactured an ‘Optionally Piloted Hovering Air Vehicle’ (OPHAV) that flies at 2,800 feet and can travel at 27 miles per hour. On their website, the company says:
“Without doubt the Martin Jetpack is one of the easiest aircraft to fly either manned or remotely with a fly-by-wire system that allows hands-free hover and position hold. When coupled with its advanced safety features, including a ballistic parachute that can open as low as six meters above the ground, the Martin Jetpack now gives operators true freedom for mission focus.”
How long could it be before you see public air-transportation? No one can be certain.
Nonetheless, if self-driving, human-carrying drones are not exciting enough, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid also announced the UAE’s intentions to build a city on Mars. The project entitled “Mars 2117” will be a project that will, according to the UAE, see international cooperation. Elon Musk’s SpaceX and NASA hoped to deliver a probe to Mars by 2018, but they have since delayed the operation until 2020.
“Human ambitions have no limits, and whoever looks into scientific breakthroughs in the current century believes that human abilities can realized the most important human dream,” said Sheikh Mohammed in a statement. “The new project is a seed that we plant today, and we expect future generation to reap the benefits, driven by its passion to learn to unveil a new knowledge.”
The ingenuity of man is endless and those who are dreamers often, with the help of engineering prowess, turn their dreams into reality. It will be interesting to keep an eye on these proposed projects. Some may merely be pie in the sky.
Only time will tell.
Jetpack, Martin. "Martin Jetpack." Martin Jetpack. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
Video, Fortune. "This MegaDrone Will Be a Self-Flying Air Taxi in Dubai This Summer." Self-Flying Air Taxi: Ehang 184 Is Coming to Dubai This Summer | Fortune.com. Fortune, 16 Feb. 2017. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
Wakefield, Jane. "Tomorrow's Cities: What It Feels like to Fly a Jetpack." BBC News. BBC, 11 Jan. 2017. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.