Passenger drones could be seen in the skies above Dubai as early as July 2017, according to the city’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA).
The pilotless drones, designed to carry a weight of 100kg and a small suitcase, will have a range of 30 km, and are on track to take off within months, according to Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of RTA.
“I am glad to inform you that hopefully we will be able to have these drones available starting July 2017,” he said.
The drones are part of Dubai’s strategy on autonomous transportation, under which 25 per cent of all journeys within the Emirate are expected to be smart and driverless by 2030.
Elon Musk, CEO of electric-car manufacturer Tesla and founder of SpaceX, estimated a far more rapid evolution of driverless cars, suggesting that all cars will have the capability within a decade.
“My guess is in 10 years, it will be very unusual for cars to be not fully autonomous,” he said. “Almost all cars will be capable of full autonomy in about 10 years. Tesla cars that are made today have the sensor system for full autonomy, it is mostly just a question of upgrading the software.”
Autonomous vehicles will present a challenge to the workforce, in that governments must consider what will happen to professional drivers, he added.
“It will take time to make enough autonomous vehicles - that disruption will take about 20 years,” he said. “That will make 12-15 per cent of the workforce unemployed.”