Americans are not emotionally prepared to fly in self-piloting drones

Americans are not emotionally prepared to fly in self-piloting drones
The Volocopter’s 2X passenger drone model will transport up to two passengers through the air.
Source: Volocopter
The Volocopter’s 2X passenger drone model will transport up to two passengers through the air.
Source: Volocopter

“Passenger drones” may soon hover around Dubai’s skies, but a recent report suggests that Americans wouldn’t be as into the idea of a hovering air taxi.

Only a quarter of Americans surveyed have even heard of passenger drones, according to a report by online polling group YouGov. Once the surveyors explained what they were — unmanned, flying pods that look like helicopters — 54% said that they’d feel unsafe riding one to work or school. Only 5% said they’d feel safe, with 41% they’d feel “neither safe nor unsafe.”

Dubai’s Road and Transportation Authority will launch its autonomous drone taxi program sometime this year and is currently working with passenger drones from Volocopter, a German-based vehicle that has been a work in progress since 2010.

Originally, the RTA was testing its program using Chinese EHANG 184 drones. Though the RTA did not explain why it’s testing a new vehicle, the Volocopter 2X has the advantage of being a two-seater while the EHANG 184 could carry only one 220-pound person and a small suitcase during the first phase of the project.

Volocopter’s drone can fly up to 62 miles per hour and has a maximum flight time of about 30 minutes, Mashable reported. However, the company is promising “as much as an hour” of flight time — or possibly more — in the near future.

But even if these drones become increasingly high-tech and reliable, they may not catch on like the average land-bound car. Twenty-five percent of those surveyed by YouGov would never be interested in buying a passenger drone, for instance — though, like Dubai transit officials, they may someday come around.

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Kelly Kasulis

Kelly Kasulis is a journalist covering tech and science for Mic. Follow her on Twitter: @KasulisK.

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