The Chinese came up with numerous projects at CES 2016, but the EHang 184 drone is by far the most interesting project I’ve seen. It is basically a huge Quadcopter, with a cockpit attached, large enough to carry a person. To make it even more interesting, the developers have included “gull-wing” doors, similar to the DeLorean from Back to the Future.
The EHang 184 drone has a height of 1.5 meters and weighing about 200 kilograms. The Chinese left us to understand that the most important aspect of the drone is its autonomy. Specifically, users won’t have to control it. Of course, do not expect to fly to the heights of a standard plane. The drone will benefit from an autonomy of only 23 minutes, it will only fly at low altitudes, and its speed will be limited to about 100 km/h.
Dealing with an autonomous device, the passengers will have to enter the coordinates before boarding, and then the vehicle will fly alone, without the need of their intervention. The developers wanted to make the flight safer by eliminating “the most dangerous thing, people’s errors”. Also, each system has several backups, and the drone will immediately land as soon as it realises the lives of the passengers in danger. The only intervention a passenger can do is to activate the “hover” mode when they see an obstacle. In hover mode, the drone will stop advancing and will remain stationed until the passengers decide to go forward.
According to Gizmosnack, the price range will be in the middle of $200,000 and $300,000, but we will have to wait until an eventual official launch on the market. Currently, the EHang 184 drone appears to be closer to a commercial variant than a prototype.