A drone is defined as “an unmanned aircraft or ship guided by remote control or onboard computers”. It might be time to change the definition.
Specifically, that bit about it being unmanned.
Ehang, a company based in Guangzhou, China, has unveiled the world’s first commercially available passenger drone. It’s called Ehang184 – named so for one passenger, eight propellers, and four arms.
While pilotless planes have been developed and tested before, Ehang claims its vehicle is the world’s first commercially available self-flying aircraft.
As the video shows, it looks like a larger version of a quadcopter drone, with a small cockpit in the middle capable of carrying a single passenger and a small bag. The company claims that it can carry 100 kg at a time and fly for 23 minutes after two hours of charging.
But is this enough to attract passengers, who will neither have control over the vehicle, nor a pilot to rely on? Passengers are supposed to choose their destination and route on a tablet and then sit back and enjoy the ride – a feature that ensures passengers won’t need a pilot’s licence. The aircraft can reportedly take off autonomously, fly a set route, sense obstacles, and land.
Commentary by Scroll.in