EHang 184, the world's first electric, personal Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) that will achieve humanity's long-standing dream of easy, everyday flight for short-to-medium distances.
The United Arab Emirates is a place where money isn’t an issue. It is, then, a testbed for ambitious projects. Case in point: the Roads & Transportation Agency wants to introduce a passenger-carrying drone service in July 2017. In other words, a flying taxi. Ehang 184 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Confirmed by RTA during a press conference in Dubai, the flying taxi service has recently carried out its first test run. The Emirates’ weapon of choice is the Ehang 184, an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) designed by a Chinese company. If you think you have seen the AAV before somewhere, that’d be the 2016 edition of the CES. Dubbed by its maker as being "the safest, smartest and [most] eco-friendly low altitude autonomous aerial vehicle,” the Chinese drone also prides itself on transportation solutions for distances of 40 to 50 kilometers. The Roads & Transport Authority estimates that its maximum operational time is 30 minutes, coming courtesy of a 17 kWh battery that can charge in four hours from a 50-amp socket. Ehang designed the 184 AAV to cruise at an average speed of 60 km/h (37.2 mph), at a maximum designated flight height of 3,500 meters above sea level. Thrust and lift come in the form of eight electric motors, two at each corners stacked above each other. In terms of maximum output, that’ll be 152 kW or 207 PS (204 bhp). The net weight of the aircraft is 240 kilograms (529 pounds), while payload is rated at 100 kilograms (220 pounds) and a small-sided suitcase. Once the passenger buckles up into the racecar-style seat, he is required to select a destination on the touchscreen pad in front of him, and that’s it. The Ehang 184 may be an autonomous machine, but for safety reasons, it’s being monitored by a command center. If something bad does happen, such as a set of electric motors going offline, the vehicle can still operate a normal flight plan. In case a bigger malfunction ensues, the electronic brain of the 184 will command the drone to immediately land in the nearest area to ensure the passenger’s safety. Oh, and another thing: the Ehang 184 is equipped with air conditioning.