Chinese drone maker EHang has released incredible footage of its 80mph (130kmh) driverless megadrone flying passengers around China for the first time.
The company says it has been testing the EHang 184 megadrone with ‘thousands of test flights’ with human passengers over the last four years and this new footage is the first evidence of the craft in action.
The rider punches in a destination on a touch screen in front of the passenger seat, then the drone flies there automatically.
The quadcopter has also been tested in various weather conditions including heat, fog, during the night and during Category 7 typhoon gale-force winds.
Ehang says it has conducted flight tests in both the single and double-seater version of its passenger drone.
The company claims it is going to demonstrate the service at Dubai’s World Government Summit this month, although it has yet to be officially confirmed.
It also completed a 984-foot (300-metre) vertical climb and could carry weights of more than 500 pounds (230kg), writes The Verge.
The quadcopter can fly more than 9.3 miles (15km) and has a high-speed cruising speed of 80.7mph (130kmh).
The company claims to have tested the drone with 40 different passengers, including Wang Dong, the deputy mayor of Guangzhou, China, where the tests have been carried out.
Hu said: ‘Performing manned test flights enables us to demonstrate the safety and stability of our vehicles.
‘What we’re doing isn’t an extreme sport, so the safety of each passenger always comes first.’
The EHang 184, megadrone is described as the world’s first ‘Autonomous Aerial Vehicle’ for transporting people although it is still not known when the company will make the drone available.
The electric-powered vehicle can carry a passenger for ten miles – or the equivalent of 23 minutes of flight.
The company has also developed and tested a two-seater with a payload of up to 617 pounds (280 kilograms).
‘What we’re doing isn’t an extreme sport, so the safety of each passenger always comes first,’ said Ehang founder and CEO Huazhi Hu.
‘Now that we’ve successfully tested the Ehang 184, I’m really excited to see what the future holds for us in terms of air mobility’, he said.
The vehicle takes off, flies and lands autonomously and all the person in the cockpit does is input the ride.
EHang also has a command centre that employs people to make sure everything is safe — sort of like an air traffic controller at an airport.
The command centre monitors every 184 in the air 24/7 and the company plans integrate with existing air traffic controller operations.
The command centre, for example, makes sure that a 184 doesn’t take off in extreme weather conditions.
In the event something does go wrong, a pilot can take control remotely.
The company has permission to test the Ehang 184 in Nevada.
‘You know how it feels to sit in a Ferrari? This is 10 times better,’ George Yan, co-founder of Ehang said in an interview with DailyMail.com in 2016.
Unveiled at CES in Las Veg as in 2016, the all-electric vehicle has four arms with a total of eight propellers at the end.
These systems combine real-time data collected from sensors throughout the flight and automatically plot the fastest and safest route to carry passengers to their destinations.
It takes off and lands vertically, subsequently eliminating the need for runways.
‘I think in all of us there is that little kid in all of us that says I want to fly,’ said Yan.
‘I don’t want to get a pilot license after five or 10 hours of flying, I want to do it right away. We’re making that dream happen.’
‘Everything is calculated in the backend to pick the most optimal route for you, so there is no collision with the other drones flying,’ said Yan.