Information Systems Integration – Tony Messina

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?

3 Responses to Drones As a Taxi Service

  • I think that although the idea is good there is many more regulations and general practices that must be put into place if drone taxis are to be made publicly usable. Concerns such as weaponry and drug transportation should be heavily given thought to as in regular taxis security measures are not taken before passengers get on the taxi but this could become dangerous if passengers get on drones without any checks (i.e. if they were to carry bombs). I personally would not travel in an autonomous electric flying vehicle, at least not until it becomes a commonplace thing and the risk of problems go down. Although I do think that a flying taxi service would be very beneficial especially in cities with high amounts of traffic. I think that driving taxi services would still be necessary as I think drone taxis would target a different demographic and I think that drones would not interfere with traditional aircrafts due to the distance usually travelled in aircrafts especially long flights overseas.

  • Hi Ajah,

    Awesome post! This is an awesome idea and will be super effective/convenient if the right legislative is put in place to help monitor and regulate the taxis like Alisa brought up. If these taxis are not encumbering on any air rights violations, then this could be a fun efficient way to from place to another. My question is whether these taxis are going to be able to land anywhere or whether there is going to be a specific course that they have to follow? Are they going to use satellites and GPS to detect where to land and navigate? How expensive is flying in a drone going to be? This seems like a very cool idea to implement, however I think that we are a long ways away from having the legislation and policies in place to safely have this technology.

  • This is exactly an idea I imagined when I was facing a serious traffic jam on the way to school. I am glad that now technology can make it come true! instead of being autonomous, I would choose to take a manual flying vehicle. It is not only about security, but also about psychological factors. At least for now, I trust people more than the machines. Having a flying vehicle or taxi service is definitely going to enhance the city traffic operation efficiency. And I think it will not interfere with our airplanes because a flying vehicle should not fly as high as an airplane and its speed should be much lower than an airplane. Thus, a flying vehicle should be more suitable for travelling within state, not across states. And if the flying vehicle can be manual, then it needs to be simple for people to learn to drive it safely. Regarding to traditional taxi service, I think it will still exist and will not be weeded out. Because there are still a large group people fearing of height or cannot take aircraft because of physical reasons.

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