A new drone’s been demonstrated that is capable of carrying a human passenger.
The amazing new drone, Ehang 184, has been built by Chinese company Ehang Inc, and was revealed at the Las Vegas convention centre during the CES gadget show.
The company have released an amazing video showing the 184 flying and it looks a bit like a small helicopter, but with four propellers similar to other drones.
The drone’s powered by electricity, can be fully charged in two hours and fly for 23 minutes at sea level, according to Ehang. It can carry up to 100kg and is big enough to fit one person and a small backpack – surprisingly it’s even got some home comforts like air conditioning and a reading light.
Passengers can set a pre-programmed flight plan, and once in the air can only give two commands – ‘take off’ and ‘land’. More worryingly the passenger has no backup controls, however the company are planning to create a remote control centre that can take over the vehicle in the event of a problem, and make sure it lands safely.
Ehang’s co-founder and chief financial officer, Shang Hsiao, said that they hoped to sell the device for $200,000-$300,000 (roughly £170,000) but acknowledged that the manned drone occupied a legal grey area, although he claimed ‘the world’s never had something like this before’.
Derrick Xiong, the chief marketing officer, claimed the drone had flown more than 100 times at low altitudes in a forested area in China, including several times with a person aboard.
Amazingly the feature that makes the quadcopter safer than a helicopter is its numerous propellers. The Guardian report that even if three of the four arms had their six propellers disabled, the final arm’s working propellers could manage a rough landing by spinning toward the ground… which sounds pretty terrifying.