For decades, people have dreamed of having a flying car that would rise above the traffic and take them quickly to their destination. Cartoons like The Jetsons gave hope to many that someday their lives would involve flying transportation that wasn’t only in the form of airplanes and helicopters. A drone company in China is striving to make this a reality.
Ehang, a Chinese drone maker, promised two years ago that they would create a completely autonomous drone that would revolutionize transportation. With high skepticism in the tech community about this, they have worked tirelessly to prove that this idea is possible. They have created a quadcopter that is able to transport passengers through the sky.
Dubbed the Ehang 184, this 4-motor drone is large enough to carry a single passenger. Over the past year, this new drone has been put through over 1000 tests to ensure that it is safe and can perform the way that it is expected. Flights with a passenger have been able to carry weight that exceeds 500 pounds, fly a routed test flight of over 9.3 miles, and reach high speed cruises of 80.7 mph.
The company has also tested the drone’s flight capabilities in a variety of different weather and external conditions. So far, the drone has been successful in high heat, night tests, heavy fog, and Category 7 typhoon winds. Ehang has gone above and beyond to ward of the skepticism by providing proven data.
The Ehang 84 is all-electric and has the goal of shuttling a single passenger from one location to another. Though the passenger will appear to be sitting in the pilot seat of this egg-shaped drone, they won’t be doing any of the piloting. It can currently fly up to 10 miles with 23 minutes of flight completely autonomously, but has a human pilot on standby in case there is ever an emergency. This drone is able to take off completely by itself, follow a charted path, and land safely.
For now, it is likely that this drone will only be used by the rich and elite once it hits the market. Flights will be expensive until there are a fleet of these drones available, which will make it more affordable for common people to use. The goal is to have these drones as an air taxi service once it is able to be replicated.
Though the test flights have been successful so far, Ehang does want to make improvements to the drone. Improving the passenger experience, adding in manual controls for those with flight experience to drive themselves, and creating one that is able to hold two people are all on the list of advancements that the developers are working on. A two seater with a payload of 617 pounds has already been created and is currently being tested.
With such an amazing creation, it is evident that the future is here. Flying cars are becoming a reality as we continue to take large strides in technology. Once the Ehang 184 is saturated in the market, travellers will be able to quickly use one to reach their destination without the fear of ever being caught in traffic again.
This is a cool project but it’s not something you’d want to fly your kids around in!