The World’s very first passenger-carrying drone, which will transport people through the air without a pilot has been launched by Chinese manufacturer. The Ehang 184 drone is built with complete redundancy. One aspect that made the quadcopter safer than a helicopter is its many propellers. Even in the event that three of the four arms had their six propellers disabled, the last arm’s functioning propellers can guarantee a rough landing by spiralling toward the ground ensuring the safety of the passenger along with the vehicle. The drone was designed to make flying easier and faster for people, as well as transform commercial flight in areas such as medical care, retailing and shipping.
The Ehang 184 drone measures around 1.4 meters high, and has eight propellors held on four arms which can be folded into the vehicle’s body for storages. Is it made up of a fibre-epoxy composite, while the frame and arms are manufactured from aluminum alloy. The vehicle can stay aloft for as much as 23 minutes, and can attain a maximum speed of 100 kilometers per hour and an altitude of 3,400 meters. The Ehang battery pack requires around four hours to power up.
The Ehang 184 drone looks like a small helicopter but have four propellers rotating parallel to the ground in the same set up as other drones. Users would enter the one-seater vehicle and enter their desired destination using a 12-inch touch sensitive screen positioned in front of the seat. The vehicle’s computer would then determine the fastest and safest route and transport its passenger there.
The electric-powered drone can stock up to 100kg (220lb). The cabin sits one person and a small backpack and is equipped with air conditioning system, along with a reading light. It is built to fit, with propellers folded, in a single parking spot. After a passenger sets a flight plan, he can only give two commands – “take off” and “land” – done with by a single click on the tablet.
Ehang has called the vehicle the “safest, smartest and eco-friendly low-altitude autonomous aerial vehicle designed to provide medium-short distance transport solutions. It also features the “Ehangen fail safe system”, which means that in case of a malfunction the drone will quickly land in the nearest available area. There is no passenger override function, meaning that anyone can travel in the drone without a pilot’s license. However, this also means the user can’t assume control in case of emergency. However the company is planning a remote control centre that would take over the vehicle in case of a problem and ensure it lands safely.
Ehang plans to start selling the drone later in 2016, with a reported selling price between £140,000 and £200,000. Designers have also envisioned other possible future uses for the unmanned aerial vehicles, including a fleet of police drones that could patrol London as well as drones that could be used in the construction of bridges and other architectural buildings.
The Ehang 184 drone had been flown more than one hundred times at low altitudes in a forested region in Guangzhou, including many times with a person aboard.