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Human-Carrying Drone Taxi 184 Approved For Test Flights
184 is an autonomous drone taxi under development by Chinese company EHang. I asked if the EHang 184 AAV Passenger Drone is the Future Of Commuting? (see video) in January.
Well, it's taken another step toward reality.
Officials from the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems granted permission for the drone to be tested and offered to help EHang submit the results to the Federal Aviation Administration in a bid to win further approval.
It is not clear whether the drone will carry a passenger during tests.
"I personally look forward to the day when drone taxis are part of Nevada's transportation system," the institute's business development director, Mark Barker, told local the Las Vegas Review Journal.
The prototype drone is over 4ft (1.2m) tall, weighs 440lb (200kg) and has eight propellers.
It can carry a single passenger for 23 minutes at 60mph (96km/h).
Passengers enter their destination on a 12in (30cm) touchscreen in front of their seat, and the drone's on-board computer works out the best route.
Although sf writers didn't say anything about quadcopters, I think that the Ehang 184 drone is predicted by 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...
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...
(Read more about the tin cabbie)
I'd also recommend you take a look at the aircab from H. Beam Piper's 1955 novel Time Crime; this is another prediction of autonomous taxi cabs.
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