A Chinese company known as EHang introduces a drone that can carry humans at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas. The 184 is an unmanned aerial vehicle that is dubbed to be the future of personal transport.
A lot of pretty cool gadgetries have been showcased since day one of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Nevada. Most probably, nothing is more eye catching than a human-sized drone built by a Chinese UAV company known as the EHang 184.
The EHang 184 is a giant autonomous UAV that can fit a human being. It is basically what one would expect to see if someone gets shrunk down to a size of a LEGO sitting right to an Inspire UAV made by DJI, except that no one gets shrunk down, and the Chinese-made UAV is parked right in the middle of the drones section of the Consumer Electronics Show.
EHang is a China-based company developed by Beijing Yi-Hang Creation Science & Technology Co., Ltd. It was founded in 2017 and has raised venture funding of about US$50 million. The company was excited to tell everyone at the CES about the 184 drone as the future of personal transportation. The better part is that people at the trade fair are too much astonished to even question about it. In reality, the company is probably using the 184 drone as a marketing tool for their standard-sized UAVs known as the Ghost. It is not like it is concluded that the 184 will never come to reality; it is just that most probably it is not coming to a nearby Best Buy store that anyone can purchase.
None of EHang's employees were in tune regarding technical specs of the 184 drone, let alone a release date or a manufacturer's suggested retail price. However, a press kit from the company provided noteworthy information.
On EHang's 184 press kit, it states that the UAV stands at 4.5 feet tall. It weighs about 440 pounds. It is also able to carry a single passenger at speeds of about 60 miles per hour for 23 minutes. The drone also features fold-up doors and arms. It is also fully automated. Passengers will only need to input destinations and will have no access to the UAV as it begins to fly.
EHang states that making the machine fully autonomous eliminates human error, which is the most dangerous part in standard modes of transportation. Although the passengers are basically helpless in case something goes wrong, the company notes that the drone has fail-safe systems made up of multiple backups for its flight system, as well as a feature where the drone will land immediately if a passenger's life is on the line.
It is probably going to take a few more years before people can see the EHang 184 flying. With all due respect, it is nice to see that a company is thinking ahead about transportation modes in the future and inspiring the UAV community, although it is unimaginable what the Federal Aviation Administration has to say about this.