Unmanned drones have become incredibly popular over the last few years, mainly thanks to their ability to acquire unparalleled footage of sports, sunsets, skyscrapers and literally anything else you could conceivably want to record. But where will it end? Courier company’s are already planning to flood the sky with delivery drones and surveillance drones are currently on the front lines defending endangered species from poachers, but what about personal transport? Can a drone carry a person? We’re here to answer that question.
Chinese drone maker Ehang recently unveiled, what they believe to be, the world’s first autonomous transport drone – The Ehang 184. This 440 pound machine, equipped with eight rotor blades, can apparently lift a single individual up to 500 meters above the ground and fly them around with the aid of Google Maps, automatically dodging objects and buildings, while taking you as a passenger to your destination. The drone can apparently handle automatic take-off and landings and will have a 23-minute journey range due to it’s battery limitations. Of course, none of us would be completely comfortable in an autonomous drone, so ground control command centers will be set up in the event that your drone decides that a human passenger isn’t necessary.
This incredible piece of engineering is going to supposedly cost between 130,000 and 200,000 pounds. Creature comforts inside will include air conditioning and even in-flight Wi-Fi considering you have little to do when flying around in a metal box. At the recent CES event, the Ehang craft caused quite a stir on the showroom floor despite it’s grounded nature. No demonstration occured and the Chinese company are keeping their cards pretty close to their chests in regards to country specific certifications it will need to acquire. Under current regulations, it wouldn’t be possible to fly this drone in the UK and would need years of testing before a public rollout could occur.
Ehang however, are not the only company seeking to bring drone-inspired transport to the masses. The US Navy and Near Earth Autonomy are two other bodies that are interested in the concept. Amazon is currently hard at work to push regulators to consider more creative uses for drones and Google is even developing new communications innovations that will form the backbone of such systems. In my personal opinion however, it may still be some time before we see passenger-carrying drones that truly get off the ground.
If you’re someone who gets excited about all the latest tech concepts that are changing our world, make sure you read our blog on virtual reality and the future it could bring to online casino’s.