Chinese company EHang is making the dream of creating a small aerial vehicle for transporting people at speed across cities a reality.
The contraption is called the “184”, and it first appeared at CES in Vegas just over two years ago. Recently the company released a video showing one of its latest manned test flights without incident.
The 184 Drone looks something like a giant quadcopter. It allows you to climb inside, press a destination on the control panel, and that’s it. You don’t need any pilot training to take a trip in the 184. Instead you just let its autonomous technology take care of everything.
To show just how much faith he has in his passenger drone, EHang CEO Huazhi Hu recently climbed inside for a test flight. He seems happy with the 184 as it cruises along, even if his team back on the ground looks a little bit nervous. And just like the best consumer drones, the personal transporter looks steady and stable in the air.
The video actually shows two different designs of the 184. The first appears to be the original version, with one seat and eight sets of rotors on four arms. The second is the most recent design and is slightly bigger with two seats and sixteen sets of rotors on eight arms, though EHang appears to be shying away from calling it the 2168.
EHang is based in Guangzhou, and the company says it has now conducted more than 1,000 test flights, with some consisting of a 984-foot vertical climb while carrying a load of up to 507 pounds. Flights have traveled as far as 9.3 miles, with the aircraft reaching speeds of up to 80.7 mph. Its maker boasts that it can even handle force 7 typhoon conditions.
“Performing manned test flights enables us to demonstrate the safety and stability of our vehicles,” Hu said in a release. “Now that we’ve successfully tested the EHang 184, I’m really excited to see what the future holds for us in terms of air mobility.”
The 184 is not without competition. Only a few days ago we saw the first test flight of the Airbus-backed Vahana self-piloting air taxi, and Uber is developing its own machine. Joby Aviation and Volocopter also have their own vehicles in the works.
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