Earlier two years, Chinese drone maker Ehang came to an event in CES in Las Vegas and promised to build a completely autonomous, passenger-carrying quadcopter that would revolutionize the future of mobility. Many of us in the tech community chortled under our breath, wondering if such a thing was even possible in the automobile industry. Today, the company revealed the footage of its first piloted test flights in the country China — and color us impressed: this thing is no joke.
Ehang’s engineers put the quadcopter, named as Ehang 184, through a battery of tests over the last few months, and with good sort of measure. The enterprise has done almost 1,000 test flights with human passengers, which includes a 984-foot (300-meter) vertical climb, a weight test carrying more than 230 kilograms, a routed test flight covering 9.3 miles (15 kilometers), and a high-speed cruising test that reached 80.7 mph (130 km/h).
The company has tested this 184, in almost all type of climatic conditions, which includes the heavy fog, high heat, night tests, and in almost all type of force winds.
The key word there is “mobility,” as it is more often with these types of ventures. Ehang has put its shaped as egg-round, multirotor aircraft in use as an air taxi, shuttling passengers across dense urban environments. The company official has said it would demonstrate this service for Dubai’s World Government Summit just before this month, but a spokesperson didn’t respond whether that was still the case. Dubai is also working with Automobile venture, Germany’s Volocopter on a similar air taxi service.
Ehang says the 184, which is all electric, can carry a single passenger up to 10 miles or roughly 23 minutes of flight. The company claims its aircraft can take off autonomously, fly a route, with sense obstacles, and land. And if there is any problem, a human pilot is supposed to step in and take over the controls from a remote command station.
Ehang also said that they are making improvements to the aircraft with new advancement. More emphasis will be placed on improving the experience of passenger and on adding an option for manual control, giving passengers with piloting experience the choice to operate the vehicle manually. Also, the company has already developed and tested a two-seater with a payload of more than 280 kilograms.