CES 2016: Chinese Company Unveils Human-Carrying Drone Prototype
While flying cars may still only be seen in the movies, a Chinese company wants to transport humans by drone and made a major step toward bringing that concept to fruition at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
At the show, Chinese drone maker Ehang showed off a full-sized drone that is capable of carrying an adult in the sky, TechRadar reports.
Ehang showed the drone flying in a video at CES. In the video, the drone looks like a small helicopter, but up close, it appears more like a standard drone with four doubled propellers.
The Ehang 184 is electric-powered and can be fully charged in about two hours, the company said. On a full charge, it can be flown for about 23 minutes.
The drone is capable of carrying a human weighing up to 220 pounds, along with a small backpack.
Users are not required to do much in order to operate the vehicle. The drone is fully automated, and the only commands that users need to give it are "take off" and "land."
The drone is designed to fly between the altitudes of 1,000 and 1,650 feet, but it can be flown up to an altitude of 11,500 feet. The maximum speed of the drone is 63 miles per hour.
However, it may be awfully hard for Ehang to get this drone approved for use in the skies. U.S. authorities are just beginning to set rules for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). A drone capable of flying a human would definitely face even more rules and restrictions.
Ehang's co-founder and CFO Shang Hsiao said he hopes that Ehang can sell the drone for between $200,000 and $300,000, but he admited that there will be some obstacles to overcome to get the vehicle approved for sale.
"The whole world never had something like this before," he said.
If there is a problem while flying, the occupant in the Ehang 184 would not have any controls. Instead, Ehang plans to have a remote control center set up to monitor drone flights across the world, where technicians could take over the controls in case of an emergency, Phys.org reports.
Ehang has said the drone has been tested over 100 times and several of the tests had a person inside.
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