The EHang Passenger Drone Will Be Uber For The Sky

The Chinese company, by the same name–EHang, are the masterminds behind the one-passenger drone. EHang’s goal is to enable commuters to fly to their destinations with a push of a button, essentially. The only thing the passenger would have to do is enter a location in a GPS app on the flying machine. After that, the drone will do the rest.

The EHang 184 will be powered by electricity and flies with eight large propellors, which are similar to smaller drones. In fact, it’s entire mechanism is a larger version of regular drones.

The passenger drone only weighs about 441 pounds. Its maximum weight capacity is 220 pounds. And at it’s maximum, the drone can travel for about 10 miles without needing to refuel. Its maximum altidude is reported to be at 1100 feet (measurements given from sea level only).

Resembling a small helicopter, the EHang 184 creators call their passenger drone a “low altitude autonomous aerial vehicle.” The EHang can detect obstacles and respond accordingly to them, travel to virtually anywhere, and land just about anywhere.

The only drawback with landing and flight paths is making sure that the passenger drone can fit in with the paths of helicopters and airplanes. Planes and helicopters already have strict paths which have already been established for quite some time.

Some other challenges that the 184 will face are legal restrictions. Especially in the U.S. where the passenger drone must be approved by the FAA, The Verge reports. And the company does not even seem to have any plans to fly in the U.S. as of right now. All they could do at CES was simply unveil the passenger drone.

The drone company claims that they’ve had successful passenger flights in China. However, evidence of an actual human being inside of the drone is inconclusive.

Another issue concerning safety is the company’s claim that a remote pilot could take over the drone flight should something go awry. The manual navigator would, in theory, save the passengers and guide them to a successful landing. The methodology of precisely how the company will accomplish this is still sketchy at this point.

Nevertheless, the creators of EHang 184 pride themselves on the safety and efficiency of their invention. Their three primary philosophies for the passenger drone are,

  • Absolute safety by design
  • Automation
  • Sync-flight management platform

These philosophies were inspired by the death of EHang 184’s founder and CEO, Ji Chen. Chen was a small plane pilot and friend of current EHang CEO, Huazi Hu. Chen lost his life as a result of a flight accident.

Huazi Hu also lost his flight coach due to another flying accident. Hu recently stated his desire to ensure safer and more effective flight solutions at CES as reported by The Verge.

“It’s been a lifetime goal of mine to make flight faster, easier, and more convenient than ever. The 184 provides a viable solution to the many challenges the transportation industry faces in a safe and energy-efficient way. I truly believe that Ehang will make a global impact across dozens of industries beyond personal travel. The 184 is evocative of a future we’ve always dreamed of and is primed to alter the very fundamentals of the way we get around.”

Hopefully, the company can work out the trivial things soon as the innovative part is already out of the way. This way, we can all avoid rush hour.

What do you think? Would you trust an automated passenger-hailed drone?