Fully Autonomous Drone Taxi

A flying hexacopter without a camera shot from a side with the a blured silhouette of Moscow in the background

At the most recent CES event in 2016, one of the coolest announcements was from a Chinese Firm. They have announced the Megadrone, an autonomous drone that is big enough to carry one single person. The firm said that this craft would be used as a self-flying taxi. The vehicle is an all electric drone. It has four arms and eight propellers at the end of each arm. It can travel up to 60 miles per hour. Ehang, the company, has called their vehicle the 184.

The vehicle is autonomous all that is required of the passenger is they enter their destination in the application. FAA regulators have yet to approve the drone for personal use in the United States. Ehang hopes that in due time this will subside. The cost has not been revealed yet, but they claim that they are going to be going commercial soon, whatever that means.

Specifications & Regulation

George Yan, the co founder of the company said in an interview to the Daily Mail, ‘You know how it feels to sit in a Ferrari? This is 10 times better.” The drone launches and can land vertically. The firm said, “Mass-adoption of the 184 has the potential to streamline congested traffic and dramatically reduce the kinds of accidents associated with any human-operated vehicle.”

All Ehang needs is approval from the FAA bodies and controllers. The vehicle can only go up in the air for 23 minutes at this point. Its battery powered and can travel only about 10 miles. As this is just a prototype it’s expected that this number will advance at a certain point, safety issues aside.

The CEO Huazhi Hu also said ‘It’s been a lifetime goal of mine to make flight faster, easier and more convenient than ever. The 184 provides a viable solution to the many challenges the transportation industry faces in a safe and energy efficient way, the 184 is evocative of a future we’ve always dreamed of and is primed to alter the very fundamentals of the way we get around.”

Future Car Hype?

When announcements like this arise its easy to get over excited. The flying car has being touted as the next big thing for years on end. It’s always just right around the corner. Look at any type of futuristic movie or television show, flying cars are there and a staple of the future. Here is the question though is this going to get through and will the regulations allow it.

Even so, if the regulations do go through there are a lot of other hurdles to get through. There has to be a network of air traffic controllers to direct all of this new traffic. These drones are also automatic and have no manual controls. So if one of them were to drop off in the middle of flying then that could prove to be fatal and have some major consequences. That isn’t to say they can add some safety measures to this. Time will tell if flying cars will ever be a reality, but an autonomous drone is a step in the right direction.


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