EHang has revealed an electric autonomous aerial vehicle at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week, the first of its kind. “You are going in there (the drone) and sit in there and enjoy the flight”, said Derrick Xiong, co-founder of Chinese UAV company Ehang.
The human carrying drone seems more like a small helicopter that has four doubled propellers spinning parallel to the ground like other drones.
The drone can travel at up to 100km an hour and can fly for up to 23 minutes, according to the company, and the battery takes two hours to recharge. With propellers folded up, it’s created to fit in a single parking spot. The passenger only needs to give two commands, “take off and land” just with a single click on a tablet. The cabin contains an air conditioning system along with a reading light.
It is created to fly about 1,000 to 1,650 feet off the ground with a maximum altitude of 11,500 feet and top speed of 63 miles per hour [Image credit: Ehang, Inc.].
The drone has been flown over 100 times at low altitudes with a human passenger on several occasions.
Federal Aviation Administration administrator Michael Huerta was at CES but could not immediately be reached for comment through a spokesman. EHang CEO Huazhi Hu hasn’t said when the passenger drone would be available on the market, but has price tagged it at a luxury price in the area of $200,000 and $300,000. The pilot in the drone does not have any backup controls. Made from a composite material, carbon fiber, and epoxy, the flying machine is programed with multiple emergency plans that, in theory, have the ability to safely fly its passenger to the nearest landing location.
The company has already tested the drone with a person aboard flying in a forested area in Guangzhou. What is sure, however, is that if it does, morning commutes could become a lot more enjoyable.