Chinese drone manufacturer Ehang has released incredible footage of the first piloted test flights of its autonomous, people-carrying quadcopter.
The company says that the Ehang 184 – the world’s first passenger drone – will revolutionise “mobility” in dense urban areas.Engineers have conducted more than 1,000 test flights with human passengers over the last few months, in which the flying vehicle successfully performed various manoeuvres including a 300-metre vertical climb, a weight test carrying more than 230kg, a route-following test, and a high-speed cruise test where it reached 80.7 mph.
In addition, the drone was able to function effectively in a variety of different weather conditions, including heavy fog, darkness, hot temperatures and even a Category 7 typhoon with gale-force winds.
“What we’re doing isn’t an extreme sport, so the safety of each passenger always comes first,” said Ehang founder and CEO Huazhi Hu. “Now that we’ve successfully tested the Ehang 184, I’m really excited to see what the future holds for us in terms of air mobility.”
The company claims that the 184 currently has a range of around 10 miles, approximately 23 minutes of flying time, with the whole operation – from take-off to landing – requiring zero human input [although if problems arise a human operator based at a remote command station will be able to intervene, they claimed].
While the vehicle will initially be aimed at the luxury market, as the technology improves and becomes cheaper the company envisions the drone being used as part of an aerial taxi service. – IBTimes