The world’s first autonomous passenger drone has made its first public flights in Lianyungang city, China.
The electrically-powered Ehang 184 just needs passengers to strap themselves in the small cabin, set their flight path and push a button. The automated flight system does the rest.
On Feb 6, the Guangzhou-based company which specialises in intelligent aerial vehicles technology announced that it had achieved a series of manned flight tests carrying one and two passengers.
Some 40 “passengers” which included the deputy mayor of Guangzhou, Ehang founder and CEO Huazhi Hu as well as other officials, were featured in a flight test video posted on YouTube.
The drone can carry a single passenger weighing up to 100kg on a 23-minute flight at sea level at a speed of 100kmh and is touted as being able to fly through fogs and in force 7 typhoon conditions.
Long-range test flights were also conducted at speeds of 130kmh over a 8.8km.
The tests involved 150 technical engineers, over 1,000 days of research and development and over 1,000 flight tests.
The Ehang 184 was first shown to the world at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It is equipped with a multi-rotor system with eight propellers which allows it to land safely even if multiple systems fail.
If all goes according to plan, Hu said he is assured that the Ehang 184 will be a safe means of transport that people can actually use in time to come.
However owning one isn’t going to be cheap. You’ll be looking at forking out somewhere between $200,000 to $300,000 to get your hands on one.