Always a spectacle of innovation, the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show did not disappoint. For us VTOL aircraft fans, one unveiling stole the show. I’m talking about the human-carrying EHang 184:
Powered by eight electric motors, this fully functional VTOL quadcopter “drone” is capable of carrying human cargo at speeds approaching 60 mph for approximately 23 minutes.
Move over Google, this drone flies itself
Fully automated flight modes are available, or you can pilot it by tablet. The intent is for flights to be preprogrammed and the EHang 184 to do the piloting for you. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, as this is probably much simpler to accomplish than creating a driver-less car. Flights are much more predictable and you don’t have to navigate through traffic – at least for now.
3-D traffic laws?
Let’s ‘park’ the myriad regulatory issues for now, and focus on the fact that EHang intends to sell these bad boys within the year. That’s right, in 2016 the company expects to start selling EHang 184s in the range of $200,000 to $300,000. For those of us in the US, I’m sure the FAA will have something to say about this. For those of you in countries with more lofty VTOL vehicle ambitions and/or a less ambitious airworthiness authority, you could see these guys flying around later this year. Awesome.
Keep your eyes on EHang and the EHang 184. This will be a fun space to watch.