Numerous science fiction films have presented the idea of flying cars and other devices for air transport of humans. In movies, these aircrafts are an everyday occurrence, but it seems that future is here now, as Chinese company EHang unveiled an autonomous drone that is capable of flying passengers! it’s Ehang 184.
During the Las Vegas Convention Centre last week, EHang presented a prototype of EHang 184, a self-driving quadcopter intended for personal use. Chinese have worked on this prototype for years. After losing founder and the CEO of the company due to a flight accident, all focus went to making a flying vehicle that will have absolute safety by design. EHang 184 is completely automated, so the passenger in the vehicle doesn’t have the option to steer it, which raises the question what happens if the mobile phone connection is lost or the machine fails for some reason. The company stated that they have designed the vehicle to recognize and land safely in case it detects any issues, and the control center will be working around the clock to oversee all the flights in order to provide more safety. Furthermore, they claim that 100 successful flights with people inside have been performed until now.
EHang 184 is, actually, an electric-powered quadcopter which can carry up to 220 pounds of weight (100 kilograms), although the vehicle itself weighs only double as much (440 pounds). It is 4.9 feet tall, and it is capable of carrying one person and a small luggage for 23 minutes at sea level. The drone can develop up to 62 miles per hour speed and, according to the company, its range of transport is 10 miles.
The passenger isn’t expected to fly the drone, all he should do is enter the flight plan via the specially designed application. There are only two commands that person in the cockpit can issue, one for taking off, and the other one for landing, all done by a single click. EHang 184 calculates the course and avoids obstacles he comes across, while the passenger enjoys the flight in a cabin, which has air condition for the passenger’s comfort. The drone has eight propellers and four arms, and the beauty of it is that it can fit into one parking spot.
Still, there are a few obstacles to overcome until the production of the EHang 184 can start, which the Chinese undoubtedly confirmed by not being able to state when it will be ready for commercial use, although they set their mind on 2016. Price is also something that wasn’t mentioned, but one thing that’s for sure is – it won’t be cheap. The makers of the aircraft promised that they will go on a world tour to demo the vehicle, once they are ready to deliver it.