Visionary Chinese company has released footage of manned test flights of its one-seater and two-seater vehicles.
Jet packs, flying cars, self-cleaning houses… it was all supposed to be EPCOT-style wave of the future by now. And while companies have certainly made a lot of headway into those and other innovations, the 21st century is far from the futuristic visions we had for this era a few decades ago.
One company is bringing some of those innovations to the table right now, though. Chinese company Ehang announced its passenger drones back in 2016, and now has released footage of manned test flights of its one-seater and two-seater vehicles. The 184 does contain controls, but the goal is far more like a self-driving car: get in, strap in, punch in (the selected flight path and destination).
Do we ever envision the day that everyone owns an Ehang 184 or two, using them to jet off to work or soccer practice? Perhaps not, at least not based on the film. For that matter, Ehang may also not see their product replacing consumer road vehicles. But where this could really be a game changer is in tackling congestion in major cities, especially given the numbers of road vehicles that operate with only one person, or with a driver and one passenger. Hailing a cab in a crowded metropolitan city might be much easier–and the travel time greatly reduced, thus also reducing pollution and infrastructure wear and tear–with a fleet of eight-rotor passenger drones.
So far, Ehang claims to have conducted thousands of flight tests, although not all of those carried human cargo. However, the CEO of the company and a nearby city official have both been taken up for brief test flights, supposedly without incident. The compiled footage of Ehang’s manned tests might have a little bit of editing involved, but the video can be found here.