A Chinese company unveiled the world’s first passenger-carrying drone at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
The Ehang-184, a car-sized aircraft that weighs 220 kilograms, is powered by electricity and capable of carrying a 120-kg person for 23 minutes, according to its maker.
“It is different from previous models of fixed-wing aircraft or single-rotor helicopters, as it is equipped with four arms and eight propellers, making it a multi-rotor aerial vehicle capable of carrying passengers,” said Xiong Yifang, co-founder of the Guangzhou-based drone manufacturer Ehang.
“A second special feature is its automatic piloting, so there is no need for our passengers to get a pilot’s license,” Xiong added.
A passenger selects their flight destination on an onboard tablet inside the pod-like cockpit and then relaxes in the air-conditioned cabin as the vehicle takes off, flies, and lands on its own.
“Hopefully in 2016, we will be able to have some commercial test flights, for instance, flying a short trip from one islet to another, or a fixed route in areas with poor transportation. We are looking forward to its full commercialization in the near future,” Mr Xiong said.
The Ehang 184 has a span of 5.5 meters when fully unfolded, and its maximum flying altitude is 3,500 meters.
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