Drones As a Taxi Service
The Chinese company, Ehang, released its first video of passengers taking off in its autonomous drone, the 184. Two years ago at CES in Las Vegas, Ehang announced that they would create a passenger carrying drone to revolutionize mobility. Many in the tech community believed it would be impossible and were impressed when the video released. The 184 is all electric and can carry a single passenger about 10 miles or 23 minutes. The passenger just enters their destination, press a button and then TAKE OFF! The 184 has been tested in many weather conditions such as heavy fog, high heat, and a Category 7 typhoon. The drone is able to sense obstacles while flying and land on its own. If something were to go wrong a human pilot will be available to take over from a remote command station. There are multiple backups for all flight systems, multiple sets of sensors to provide a stream of real-time data, vertical take-off & landing, and LTE network. Since 184 is battery operated, it has a charging time of one hour.
Ehang has seen many improvements to the aircraft since first starting. Ehang plans on improving passenger experience and adding an option for manual control in the future. Ehang anticipates the first phase of this new market will be providing luxury rides to rich folk because of the aircrafts price. Many other companies are creating a similar electric flying vehicle such as Boeing, Airbus and Joby Aviation. There has yet to be regulations for electric craft but there is little in the way to establish those guidelines. The passenger carrying drone will someday gain widespread adoption.
If you had the opportunity to travel in an electric flying vehicle, would you? How efficient do you think a flying taxi service would be? Could it put driving taxi services out of business? Would the drones interfere with the operation of traditional aircraft?