The world’s first passenger drone capable of autonomously carrying a person in the air for 23 minutes has been given clearance for testing in Nevada. This autonomous drone was unveiled at CES in Las Vegas on January 6.
Officials from Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems granted permission for the testing of the drone, which is the first of its kind in the United States. The autonomous drone can carry one passenger and was developed by Chinese company EHang.
Chinese Company and the state of Nevada are trying to make this happen by moving forward to testing its flight. The drone is labeled as “world’s first passenger drone,” as The Guardian reported.
The EHang 184 will be powered by electricity, and it flies with eight large propellers, which is very much similar to a larger version of regular drones. It weighs only about 441 pounds and has a maximum capacity of 220 pounds. The drone is expected to travel for about 10 miles without needing to refuel, and its maximum altitude is reported to be 1110 feet above the sea level. In the U.S., passenger drones must be approved by the FAA, and the state of Nevada is currently working to help guide the regulatory process, with the ultimate aim of achieving safe flight. Testing is expected to begin this year, but no specific dates have been announced.
The drone is autonomous, meaning the passenger cannot take control. Passengers need only two commands – “take off” and “land” – that they can issue with a single click on a tablet, the company said. In an emergency event of a drone’s malfunction, the drone would land in the nearest safe area. One feature that made the quadcopter safer than a helicopter was its numerous propellers, Xiong said.
It is not clear whether the drone will carry a passenger during tests.
“I personally look forward to the day when drone taxis are part of Nevada’s transportation system.”
Tom Wilczek, Aerospace and Defense Industry Specialist for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, said the above in an interview. But the drone company claims that they’ve had a successful flight in China. However, evidence of passenger-driven drones has not yet been tested.
EHang has never been deployed commercially. It has, however, done much to impress the team from the biotech firm on its future use for organ deliveries. The U.S. state of Nevada even looks to get onboard as well.
The creators of EHang 184 are well assured of its safety and the efficiency of their invention. This is an automated drone with absolute safety by design, Sync-flight management platform, and much more. These philosophies were inspired by the death of EHang184’s founder and CEO, Ji Chen, who lost his life as a result of a flight accident. As Business Insider wrote after the drone was unveiled, “The first question I had was what would happen if the flight-control tablet crashed or some technical issue arose mid-flight.”
The 184 has been under development for two and half years, and the company is aiming to deploy its first flight later this year. This could be one of the first of the kind and the start of the world’s first drone vehicles in near future. The drone takes off and lands vertically, which eliminates the need for runways, which makes it fully compatible with areas where runways are hard to find.
The world’s first automated passenger drone surely bears the potential for the future means of transportation and a breakthrough to the start of a new era of transportation. But the ultimate question on everyone’s mind is, can we trust this automated drone? This question has yet to be answered in the time being.
[Image via Ehang]