EHang 184 AAV Passenger Drone Future Of Commuting?
Is that an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) I see overhead? Ehang, a Chinese startup, unveiled at CES 2016 what it says is the first passenger drone. The company hopes to sell the device for $200,000 later this year.
(Ehang 184 Autonomous Aerial Vehcile)
The Ehang 184 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) weighs 200 kilograms (440lbs), and has four sets of paired electric motors. The company claims the batteries can be charged in two to four hours. The drone is controlled via a tablet, which is used to set the flight path before take-off. According to the company's website: "Ehang 184 AAV flies in a inverted U shape. It takes off and lands vertically, point to point direct flight based on altitude and latitude of the origin and termination point. Take Off/Landing points are landing targets pre-set with Ehang Logo. The landing camera will position the landing targets automatically and accurately."
The Ehang 184 AAV is actually pretty close to the the tin cabbie from James Blish's 1957 novel Cities in Flight:
The cab came floating down out of the sky at the intersection and maneuvered itself to rest at the curb next to them with a finicky precision. There was, of course, nobody in it; like everything else in the world requiring an IQ of less than 150, it was computer-controlled...
Chris studied the cab with the liveliest interest, for though he had often seen them before from a distance, he had of course never ridden in one. But there was very little to see. The cab was an egg-shaped bubble of light metals and plastics, painted with large red-and-white checkers, with a row of windows running all around it. Inside, there were two seats for four people, a speaker grille, and that was all: no controls and no instruments...