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. Volocopter
The Volocopter’s 2X passenger drone model will transport up to two passengers through the air. 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.

This video by Volocopter discusses Dubai’s commitment to air taxis. Volocopter/YouTube

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.

This video shows a test flight of the EHANG 184 passenger drone. EHANG/YouTube

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.