- China chooses Ehang to develop passenger drones
- The drone – known as Ehang184 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle – has wowed critics
A quadcopter passenger drone has undergone numerous tests carrying actual passengers in conditions that have mimicked a category 7 typhoon, high temperatures and visibility-hampering fog scenarios.
Chinese based drone manufacturer, Ehang, first debuted the drone in 2016. Since then it has undergone more than a thousand test flights to ensure it is prepared for every condition that it could meet in flight. The Ehang184 underwent a 300m vertical ascent, a 500-pound weight test, a flight route of 150km and has flown at speeds of up to 130km/h.
The drone is said to be able to transport passengers for 16km or a trip lasting 23 minutes. The process is autonomous: passengers step in and input their desired destination.
The drone has obstacle avoidance sensors, autonomous guiding systems and the ability to take off and land vertically. In the event of a system failure, a remote pilot would take over the controls and guide the drone to safety.
Ehang says the model it has tested will be able to carry two passengers and retail at about US$865.
In February 2019, the Airworthiness Department of Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) authorised Ehang to pilot its product in the development of passenger drone programmes. The CAAC issued a guidance report with the intention of establishing a risk-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) management system by the end of 2019.
Ehang was chosen as one of the companies to initiate and develop different programmes for UAVs used to transport cargo, inspect powerlines and carry passengers. Ehang is China’s first company to pilot and test passenger autonomous aerial vehicles.
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