The ‘184’ autonomous passenger drone from Chinese company, Ehang, has been given approval for test flights in Nevada. A prototype was shown off at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with the company hoping to sell the drones later this year.
Officials from the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems granted permission for the drone to be tested and offered to help Ehang submit the results to the Federal Aviation Administration in a bid to win further approval.
Mark Barker, business development director of the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, said: “I personally look forward to the day when drone taxis are part of Nevada’s transportation system.”
The prototype drone is 1.2m tall, weighs 200kg and has four double rotors fitted under the body at each corner of the vehicle making it resemble a remote control consumer drone. The passenger enters their destination on a touchscreen and the drone’s on-board computer works out the best route. It can carry a single passenger for 23 minutes at 60mph. Upon landing the rotors fold up so that the drone can fit into a space the size of a car parking space.
There is no passenger over-ride function, meaning the user cannot take control in an emergency. In the event of a malfunction, the drone has a ‘fail safe’ system that would land it in the nearest available area.
Ehang hopes to begin testing later in 2016. Gamechanger?