World's first passenger drone unveiled by Ehang at CES 2016
CES 2016: Chinese manufacturer Ehang has unveiled the world's first passenger-carrying drone, which will transport individuals through the air without a pilot (+ movie).
The Ehang 184 drone measures around 1.4 metres high, and features eight propellors held on four arms that can be folded into the vehicle's body for storage.
According to the manufacturer, which was founded in 2013, users would enter the one-seater vehicle and input their final destination using a 12-inch touch screen located in front of the seat. The vehicle's computer would then calculate the quickest and safest route and transport its passenger there.
Ehang has called the vehicle the "safest, smartest and eco-friendly low-altitude autonomous aerial vehicle aiming on providing medium-short distance transportation solutions".
The 184's body is composed of a fibre-epoxy composite, while the frame and arms are made from aluminium alloy. The vehicle can remain aloft for up to 23 minutes, and can achieve a maximum speed of 100 kilometres per hour and an altitude of 3,400 metres. The 184's battery pack takes around four hours to recharge.
The company says the drone is designed so that even if one propellor fails, the vehicle will still be able to complete its flight. It also incorporates the "Ehangen fail safe system", which means in the event of a malfunction the drone will immediately land in the nearest available area.
There is no passenger override function, which means that anyone can travel in the drone without a pilot's licence. However, this also means the user can't take control in an emergency.
The design was unveiled at the CES 2016 trade fair in Las Vegas this week. Ehang intends to start selling the drone later in 2016, with a reported price tag between £140,000 and £200,000.
Drones on a smaller scale are being utilised for everything from Amazon deliveries to medical supply transportation.
Designers have also envisioned other possible future uses for unmanned aerial vehicles, including a fleet of police drones that could patrol London, and to build of bridges and other architectural structures.