China's Ehang Flying Passengers In Autonomous Air Taxi Tests

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The Ehang 184 now has an operating range of 10 miles or 16 kilometres which equates to around 23 minutes of flying time claims the company.

Chinese drone manufacturer Ehang has released video footage of the first piloted test flights of its upcoming two-seater passenger drone - the Ehang 184.

The results showed that the vehicle can carry one passenger weighing less than 100 kg for about 25 minutes of flight at a speed of 100 km per hour.

So far, more than 40 people have been involved in the manned flight tests of the 184, including the deputy mayor of Guangzhou, Wang Dong, and other government leaders, Ehang CEO Hu, technology research and development staff, partners, and potential customers.

Despite the weight specifications, EHang says and shows how during the test flights the drone carried two people at the same time. "What we're doing isn't an extreme sport, so the safety of each passenger always comes first".

A white passenger drone is on display behind a red rope and a crowd looks at it and takes
Watch Ehang's Self-Flying Drone Carry Human Passengers

Check out the Ehang 184 in action in the video below.

The Ehang 184 AAV will still see further improvements, according to Hu.

Since its inception in 2014, EHANG has been conducting multiple test flights of EHANG 184, including a vertical climbing test reaching up to 300m, a loaded test flight carrying around 230kg, a routed test flight covering 15km, and a high-speed cruising test that reached an altitude of 130km/h.

In addition, the company has already developed and tested a two-seat AAV with a payload of up to 617 pounds.

Initially the drone will predominantly be aimed at the luxury market, however, as technology evolves and becomes more cost effective the company expects their drone to be an affordable option for an aerial taxi and private hire service. "This is a step-by-step process", commented Hu, "and at EHANG, we have our own roadmap". Each vehicle's communications are encrypted with independent keys; in the event of an in-flight emergency, the system can evaluate the situation and execute emergency landing procedures if needed, or the passenger can elect to halt flight operations and hover in place.

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