Recently, a drone manufactured by EHang, a firm that is based in China, claimed of producing the world’s first autonomous aerial vehicle which can transport a person from one place to another.
The drone resembles to a quadcopter and they named it EHang 184. This aerial vehicle is powered by an all-electric system. It has eight powerful propellers which are attached to the 184’s arms. The drone can carry a maximum load of 220 pounds, it weights 440 pounds and it is 5 feet tall – sorry tall dudes, this drone is not for you.
EHang vainly claims that their autonomous aerial vehicle is the safest and most convenient means of drone aerial transportation to use. The person who rides the drone will just simply tap the drone’s touchscreen master control and its navigational panel. After the user configures the drone’s settings and sets the navigation, the drone will slowly hover and gain the necessary flight altitude, then fly the its passenger to the desired destination.
According to EHang’s Mr. Derrick Xiong, the person that will ride their drone won’t need to get a pilot license. They will enjoy the liberty of flying without going to an expensive and time consuming flight school.
Ehang’s 184 drone is mainly used for traveling in a short or medium distances. It has a cruising speed of 60 miles per hour.
Safety and precaution: Inside Ehang’s 184 autonomous aerial vehicle
Mr Xiong pointed out that their drone will not use computer sensors to detect objects to avoid any obstruction during flight. Instead of using a computer backed sensors, its engineers designed of a fail-safe system that will let the AAV land if it detects a broken or damaged components on its hardware.
The company uses its command center which has tech support manpower and will serve as the control tower for their 184 drone. This command center will monitor the drone’s flight, considering the safety of its passenger and the weather conditions. The command center will automatically not allow any drones that will fly in extreme or bad weather condition. However there are loopholes that should not be ignored: one of this is not having a collision detection system.
Despite the vain announcement of its success, apparently there’s no specific date of its release. The company say that they will start manufacturing their drones few months from now. The first batch of the drones will be released in China, where they also plan to set up their drone command center. Ehang is planning to employ a 300-man power workforce to help them succeed in their operation.
The launching of this project in the US mainland will be most likely followed after the completion of its Federal Aviation Administration certification. The FAA must check whether the drone is air worthy or not, even though there’s a struggle on regulating the drones that are massively entering the US market. Let’s all hope that FAA won’t find any issues with this “Made in China drone”. Their promotional video listed fails to show that there is really a man inside the drone’s cockpit, while its flying. Strange, right?
Price range expectations
The price of this drone will not be cheap, according to some market analyst. The price range will be in the middle of $200,000 and $300,000. They will also require a service or a subscription free into their command center. Until now, the company is still figuring out how much 184s are they going to sell.
If the company sells at the expected price range, then this drone is not for all. Most likely, it will be used for special proposes like air news crews, emergency responders, rescue and personal use for big pocket dudes out there.
EHang believes that in the future drones will be widely used in metropolis such as Los Angeles or Beijing. Because of their plan to operate in the US mainland, they already started to have talks with several US officials.
They see the drone as a major solution for the daily traffic, and in some catastrophic events. Ehang 184 could transport a patient from any location, bypassing long traffic jams.
Cofounder Xiong claims that their drone is fully operational and it has been flying around in China on its developmental stage since 3 years ago. The company’s plan to release it last year was put on hold because they waited “for the right time”.
Before the successful completion of drone 184, EHang has been mainly producing drones, such as the Ghost Drone. The drone is not controlled by a dedicated remote control, instead it is accompanied and controlled by a smartphone application. The success of the Ghost Drone made huge bucks for EHang, which raised an income of $42 million last year. This made the company’s asset to increase up to $400 million. The application used to control the drone is simple and easy to use, making it a favorite for some of its consumers.
However, man flying drones is a completely different business. Would you be willing to invest in EHang’s AAV as your personal ride? Comment below.