Chinese passenger drone taxi being tested for use in U.S.
Ehang's 184 passenger drone automatically navigate passengers from point A to point B.
There are many common uses for drones these days. However, a Chinese firm, EHang, is taking the average drone one step further. According to the company, they have developed the world’s first electric, personal Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV). And in order to bring this vehicle to the transportation market, they are beginning to test the 184 AAV in the U.S.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) have signed an agreement with EHang, to allow them to meet regulatory standards.
“The State of Nevada, through NIAS, will help guide EHang through the FAA regulatory process with the ultimate goal of achieving safe flight,” says Tom Wilczek, GOED’s Aerospace and Defense Industry Specialist.
The goal of this project was to make drones accessible for short and medium distance human transport. The fully ready-to-fly AAV is a manned drone capable of automatically carrying a passenger through the air, simply by entering a destination into its accompanying smartphone app. Due to the 184’s fully automated navigation, made possible by a 24/7, real-time flight command center, passengers have no need for a pilot’s license.
The company boasts that passengers simply need to sit back and let the drone take over from there.
“Partnering with GOED and NIAS is a big step for EHang 184 to move forward to government regulatory approval of the unprecedented innovation in US and globally, which will lay the foundation for its commercialization and building up the aerial transportation ecosystem in the future,” says Huazhi Hu, Founder and CEO of EHang.
One of the big challenges facing standard modes of transportation is human error. This automated flight device eliminates this risk by removing human control.
“It’s been a lifetime goal of mine to make flight faster, easier and more convenient than ever,” says Hu. “The 184 provides a viable solution to the many challenges the transportation industry faces in a safe and energy efficient way.”
EHang expects to begin testing at the Nevada FAA UAS Test Site in 2016, and will work closely with NIAS over the coming months to work through the UAS flight requirements.
The EHang 184 is named for the ‘one’ passenger, ‘eight’ propellers, and ‘four’ arms found in its design.
The 184’s Fail-Safe System automatically evaluates the damage and determines whether the AAV will need to land to ensure its passenger’s safety. EHang 184 AAV flight control systems is constantly receiving real-time data through multiple sensors in order to ensure safety. The 184’s communication system is encrypted, and each AAV comes with an independent key. And in the event of an emergency, passengers can elect to halt flight and simply hover in the air with just one click.
The 184 uses multiple independent flight control systems to automatically navigate passengers from point A to point B. These systems combine real-time data collected from sensors throughout the flight and automatically plot the fastest and safest route to carry passengers to their destinations.
The EHang 184 AAV takes off and lands vertically, eliminating the need for runways. Its foldable design solves the logistical and spatial issues that have constrained airplanes and other modes of air-travel from expanding into daily use.
The vehicle stands 1.5 meters tall and weighing 200 kilograms (440 pounds) and has a load capacity of 100 kilograms (220 pounds), with the maximum output of 106W powered by eight motors. It’s designed to have the capability to carry a single passenger for 23 minutes’ duration flight at sea level at average cruising speed of 100 km/h.
The cabin interior features a single seat, designed similar to an F1 racing car seat. In front of the seat is a tablet console, through which passengers can easily input commands. Additionally, the cabin’s built-in air conditioner automatically adjusts the in-cabin temperature. Complete with 4G Wi-Fi Internet, EHang 184 provides passengers with comfortable and enjoyable riding experiences, boasts the company.