Ehang 184 Megadrone – The Personal Flying Vehicle
Up, up and away: The human-sized quadcopter Ehang 184 Megadrone that whipped CES 2016 into a frenzy could be the first Personal Flying Vehicle and will start carrying passengers as early as this summer in Dubai.
As the head of Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Agency announced at the World Government summit, the Chinese EHang 184 passenger drone will begin “regular operations” around the futuristic city in July of 2017.
In fact, as the Associated Press reports, the EHang 184 has already been flying around Dubai’s Burj Al-Arab skyscraper, which happens to have a helipad floating a dizzying 689 feet off the ground.
“This is not only a model,” “We have actually experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai’s skies.” – Roads and Transportation chief Mattar al-Tayer said.
Since al-Tayer didn’t elaborate, it’s as of now unclear whether any of those flights actually carried a real person, however it sounds like the Personal Flying Vehicle’s specs have gotten some slight upgrades since we last saw it on the floor in Las Vegas.
The AP reports the PFV now has a half-hour flight time with about 31 miles (50km) of range, but passenger capacity is still limited to a 260-pound (100 kg) person and single small suitcase. Since the vehicle is autonomous, the passenger only needs to punch in their destination and strap in before take-off.
From that point, the EHang 184 will communicate via 4G wireless network with a control room on the ground similar to the one EHang showed the end of last year.
To call for a flying taxi all passengers will need to do is enter their destination into an app. The drone then maps the route and transports the passenger to their destination. It can’t fly directly but has to hop from one set landing spot to another.
Dubai isn’t the first city to show an interest in using the Ehang 184, first unveiled at CES in 2016, as part of its transport system. Las Vegas announced last summer that it would start trialing the drones for public use.
While the crown jewel of the United Arab Emirates will get to claim bragging rights as the first city to unleash flying passenger drones, officials in Nevada are also seeking the FAA’s approval on the EHang 184
Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced in April he wanted 25%of all passenger trips in the city to be done by driverless vehicles in 2030. To that end, Dubai already has had the box-shaped driverless EZ10, built by France’s EasyMile, cruise nearby the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.