The Autonomous Passenger Drone – Ehang 184

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Forget about flying cars as there are autonomous Drones that can carry people and take them to their desired destination on just a single touch.

The passenger drone ‘Ehang 184‘ was first introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2016 by Beijing Yi-Hang Creation Science and Technology Corporation.

This Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is built for commercial use and will be providing service over Dubai’s skyline at some point between October and December as announced by the head of the city’s Road and Transportation Agency at the World Government Summit.

The Ehang 184 has already​ had the test flight in Dubai and can carry one passenger weighing up to 220 pounds (100 kg) at a time. It does not have any controls inside except for a touch screen through which you can select your desired destination and then the drone will use GPS just like the smartphone to track location. On a single charge, this drone can provide a flight time of 30 minutes and can fly up to 50 km (31 miles).

It is auto-piloted by a command Center and is said to have a top speed of 160 kilometers per hour or 100 miles per hour. The company says that the drone is designed in such a way if one propeller fails, the vehicle will stay stable and will complete its flight. If there is any event of malfunction the drone will immediately land in the nearest spot available.

Image by Robotics Trend

According to a report by Associated Press, Mr al-Tayer says, “This is not only a model, we have actually experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai’s skies.”

As the drone isn’t autonomous, the passenger does not need to have a pilot’s license. This high profile drone is a great step in unmanned aviation and autonomous vehicles vision. However, safety is a big concern when it comes to these type of aircraft system. The Artificial Intelligence must be very advanced, but even the latest AI struggles in difficult situations. Like for say what will the drone if there is no near landing spot available in any emergency situation. There must be some pilot controls available assisted by AI co-pilots instead of fully self-flying aircraft.

The Dr. Steve Wright, senior lecturer in avionics and aircraft systems at the University of the West of England, reported​ at BBC.

“The way these systems work, making them work normally is easy. The tricky bit is making systems that are resilient to failure, I would like to see the drone flying for at least 1000 hours before I saw a human in it.”

However, some experts are still very optimistic and believe that these are technological challenges which we must accept and overcome. The Ehang will have to find away to get people to believe that their technology is safe, but first, the drone needs to be approved by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

There are several other companies working on this project like a company announced their Quad Copter Designed for military use. This drone will cost around $14 million and will carry around 500 kg at 185 kilometers per hour.

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