China, one of the most technologically advanced countries, has always been ahead in major developments from architecture to electronics or may it be a whole new invention. In fact, it is so ahead of its time that you can find robots walking around in restaurants and offices, serving you food or helping you with some logistics.
The developments in transportation systems over the past few years have been massive. For any vehicle to cope with traffic such as that present in the cities of New York, Beijing or Mumbai is a constant hurdle and there has always been a demand for a better alternative. With the increasing population and declining resources, even public transport is falling short of options. The Chinese company Ehang Inc., has come up with a revolutionary solution. The company, which is famous for its cinematography and survey drones, has now built the world’s first passenger drone. It has launched the series of drones named Ehang UAVs like the Ghost and Ehang Hexacopter but with the introduction of Ehang 184 and Ehang 216 passenger drones, the face of transport is about to change.
Ehang had stunned the audience in the Consumer Electronics Show in 2016 by bringing forth the world’s first passenger drone called Ehang 184 which can carry a payload of 220 pounds (100 Kilograms) for a flight time of 25 minutes. It can carry one passenger and is an autonomous drone with eight propellers on four arms. It can cruise to the speed of 62 mph (100 km/h). The company claims that it had started carrying actual passengers since 2015 and had made 40 journeys by February 2018. Apart from that, the drone had undergone around a 1000 test flights in very harsh weather conditions, in low light and even at altitudes of 1000 ft, successfully.
Ehang’s research and development wing had been prepping up a variation of the passenger drone while the 184 was being tested and in the year 2018 Ehang unveiled its two-seater passenger drone as well called the Ehang 216. The 216 has 16 propellers and has already made a whopping 1000 manned flights by July 2018 and flown a maximum range of 8.8 km (5.5 miles).
These autonomous drones hold the capability to save hours on end and since they are electric powered vehicles they are a boon to the environment as well.
The prospects of the flying taxi coming to your city may look bright as the company plans on commercializing the 184 and 216 by late 2018 or at the beginning of 2019 and would soon take over the skies of its test cities of Nevada and Dubai. With the rapidly increasing momentum of its success, it wouldn’t be long before the flying taxi drops by your city as well.
Several companies like the Airbus, Intel, etc, are trying to conquer a similar feat but the approaching production and test dates of Ehang show us that it might just take a lead in this field.
Watch the Ehang 184 liftoff: