World's first passenger drone wows crowd in China

The EHang 184 autonomous aerial vehicle is unveiled at the EHang booth at CES International in Las Vegas

The EHang 184 autonomous aerial vehicle is unveiled at the EHang booth at CES International in Las Vegas

There are several companies now developing drones capable of transporting passengers, but the most significant and most recent breakthrough comes from China, where a company called EHang Inc. has been working on its take on the soon-to-bloom transportation market segment. It can also navigate through heavy fog.

EHang says the vehicle runs on electric batteries. The Ehang 184 has a cruising altitude of 500 metres and takes only one hour to fully charge.

Once boarded, a passenger will see a control center display in front of their seat.

The vehicle can carry a passenger up to 10 miles or for roughly 23 minutes of flight before needing to stop for an hour recharge. The model is also equipped with a fail-safe system-if the components malfunction or disconnect, the drone will land in the nearest viable area.

CEO and Founder of Ehang, Huazhi Hu said: "What we're doing isn't an extreme sport, so the safety of each passenger always comes first", further adding "Now that we've successfully tested the Ehang 184, I'm really excited to see what the future holds for us in terms of air mobility". "This is a step-by-step process", commented Hu, "and at EHANG, we have our own roadmap".

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On Tuesday, it was shown off to the world in a test flight over the southern city of Guangzhou.

Despite the weight specifications, EHang says and shows how during the test flights the drone carried two people at the same time.

This project commenced in January 2017 and the drone made its debut flight in November 2017. Volocopter hopes to launch a commercial pilot program with the drone in the early 2020s.

But when will these passenger drones be readily available for public use?

Regulations, however, could slow down tech companies' flying taxi ambitions, especially if they want to expand around the world. No, it's The Ehang 184 an autonomous, people-carrying quadcopter!

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