Electric drone air taxis are here, but how far are they from going mainstream? Companies like Amazon and Google have been pushing the movement forward for autonomous air travel for some time, but the inclusion of passenger-carrying drones still seems like a bit of a stretch. That is, until very recently.
At the 2016 CES in Las Vegas, the Ehang 184 Quadcopter Passenger Drone was announced– with no real proof of concept. A few years and over 1,000 passenger-carrying test flights later, the Ehang 184 Quadcopter Passenger Drone is preparing to go to market.
The 184 has undergone several tests to account for varying weather conditions at this point accounting for heat, fog, time of day, and winds, including testing during a Category 7 typhoon with gale-force winds. The Ehang 184 Quadcopter Passenger Drone can carry a single passenger for 23 minutes of flight.
Ehang 184 Quadcopter Passenger Drone
While the aircraft flies autonomously, it connects back to a station where a pilot can take control of the craft remotely for any reason. Ehang’s founder, Huazhi Hu, has made safety a concern, noting that “What we’re doing isn’t an extreme sport, so the safety of each passenger always comes first.”
Intentions to showcase the Ehang 184 Quadcopter Passager Drone in Dubai’s World Government Summit have been mentioned, but we do not have any details on the status of that at present. As Ehang strives to hit a commercial air taxi market, Dubai is at the forefront.
Dubai announced a deal with Germanbased Volocopter (another quadcopter company) and plans are well underway. If Ehang is unable to do a test flight in Dubai, they will be taking flight in Nevada where they have secured an FAA-approved site.
Ehang has already developed its next-generation model: a two-passenger drone with an increased payload of up to 617 pounds. As Ehang competes in the expansive electronic aerial vehicle market, we are looking forward to seeing if they can scale, and at what rate.
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