Sit inside a cockpit, put your backpack in the trunk of the copter, switch on the engine propellers, turn on the 12-inch tablet display provided inside, enter your location in the app configured with a map, press the take-off button and relax to enjoy the flight! You can maybe turn on the AC & the reading light to read a book or browse internet with the 4G connection provided in the vehicle or enjoy live video of the ground below via the downward facing cameras attached to the drone! All this while the drone flies you safely & autonomously to your workplace or friend’s house!
Yes, we are talking about a singularity in the world of drones, about the only drone that can carry people & be your personal flying vehicle!
Welcome the EHang 184 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV), a single-seater self-driving drone! Self-driving cars suddenly sound so dull, don’t they?
Is it ready to take off?
The drone made its debut appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 that concluded recently. And it in fact is one of the most talked about products & one of the most anticipated technological innovations to be launched in the year of 2016. The company EHang claims that it is totally ready to take off. In fact they plan to commercialize the drone within the next 3 to 4 months. And a series of worldwide demo flights are scheduled to begin within some days!
How far, how fast & how high can it take me?
The EHang 184 drone is an environmentally clean product and runs on battery. Fully charging the 14.4-kWh battery pack would take you two hours in fast-charging mode post which it would be ready to keep you airborne for 23 minutes. It can carry up to 120 kg of weight and has a maximum speed of 100 kmph. It can reach a maximum altitude of 11,480 ft.
Is it really safe? What if it malfunctions?
The AAV would always be connected online with its base stations. The company would be building flight
command centers in the ground which will locate all its flying vehicles. In case of malfunctions, failsafe systems and command centers will take control of the vehicle. During emergency situations, the passenger can also instruct the drone to securely land in the nearest possible area to ensure safety.
The AAV is also thunderproof & eligible to fly 24*7. However, you need to login to a flying mode before actually taking off and the command center would not allow you to fly during extreme weather conditions.
How about take-off, landing & route selection?
The AAV flies in an inverted ‘U’ shape with vertical take-off & landing. The downward facing landing camera will position the landing zone safely, automatically & accurately.
For safe navigation, the drone will manage communication with air traffic control & other aircrafts for obstacle avoidance while also choosing the fastest yet safest route between the take-off & landing points using real time sensor data.
It will communicate with other aircrafts using the flashing airline signal lights as well as a headlight. And this is how it will navigate above cities:
What about permissions & legal hassles?
Well, the company will surely have a lot of hurdles before they finally become airworthy all across the globe. The legality of the drone is the only uncharted territory as of now. But this is how the company addresses the legal concerns, “Because the 184 AAV represents an entirely new category of technology, there are regulations and agencies that are still catching up. We are in uncharted waters, and are working closely with government agencies across the planet to develop and regulate the future of transportation.”
How much would it cost?
As per company sources, the price is likely to be somewhere around $200,000 to $300,000. That’s too much for a drone but this is in fact much more than a simple drone. It has taken the ‘game of drones’ to a whole new level, this is the new season and in the previous season we only saw Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The company has pioneered & made possible the reality of AAVs. I am convinced about it being a great new dawn to futuristic conveyance.
What do you think?
Check out the full launch video of EHang 184 AAV from CES2016: