World's first passenger drone makes maiden public flight in China

Published: February 8, 2018
An EHang 184 on display at the World Internet Conference in China last year.

An EHang 184 on display at the World Internet Conference in China last year. PHOTO: REUTERS

The world’s first passenger drone named EHang 184 made its first public flight on Tuesday in south China’s Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province.

With the newly developed device, all passengers need to do is to get into the small cabin and fasten their seat belts, the automated flight system then takes over.

“None of the traditional flying vehicles can achieve the goal of fully autonomous flying, so they are still far away from common people. But our successful flight today means the scenes that we used to only see in sci-fi movies are now very close to common people,” said Hu Huazhi, chief executive officer (CEO) of Chinese tech company EHang.

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The electrically powered Ehang 184 can carry a single passenger weighing up to 100 kg for a 23-minute flight at sea level at a speed of 100 km per hour, the company said.

The company says the drone has been tested over 1,000 times, and is designed to withstand moderate gales with winds of up to 50 km per hour.

Last year, the city of Dubai announced a plan to cooperate with EHang to develop self-flying taxis taking people across the city.

The company is eying a broader market.

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“(The drone can) help people to avoid the traffic on the ground, but also in other applications, we can always think about emergency rescue, or we can transport patients to the hospital, or we can do a tourism, you know, fly from one island to the other,” said Derrick Xiong, co-founder and CEO of EHang.

EHang says the final commercial product will fly into the market possibly within the year.

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