Aircraft

Ehang flying taxi shown lifting passengers into the air for the first time

Ehang flying taxi shown liftin...
Crafted from a carbon fiber and epoxy composite with an aluminum alloy frame, the Ehang 184's top speed is listed as 130 km/h (80 mph)
Crafted from a carbon fiber and epoxy composite with an aluminum alloy frame, the Ehang 184's top speed is listed as 130 km/h (80 mph)
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Crafted from a carbon fiber and epoxy composite with an aluminum alloy frame, the Ehang 184's top speed is listed as 130 km/h (80 mph)
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Crafted from a carbon fiber and epoxy composite with an aluminum alloy frame, the Ehang 184's top speed is listed as 130 km/h (80 mph)
Ehang has been a little coy about its taxi drone since bringing a grounded prototype to CES in 2016
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Ehang has been a little coy about its taxi drone since bringing a grounded prototype to CES in 2016
Crafted from a carbon fiber and epoxy composite with an aluminum alloy frame, the Ehang 184's top speed is listed as 130 km/h (80 mph)
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Crafted from a carbon fiber and epoxy composite with an aluminum alloy frame, the Ehang 184's top speed is listed as 130 km/h (80 mph)
Today we've gotten our best look yet at the Ehang 184, with footage for the first time showing it carrying out test flights with people onboard
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Today we've gotten our best look yet at the Ehang 184, with footage for the first time showing it carrying out test flights with people onboard
Ehang has been a little coy about its taxi drone since bringing a grounded prototype to CES in 2016
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Ehang has been a little coy about its taxi drone since bringing a grounded prototype to CES in 2016
Today we've gotten our best look yet at the Ehang 184, with footage for the first time showing it carrying out test flights with people onboard
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Today we've gotten our best look yet at the Ehang 184, with footage for the first time showing it carrying out test flights with people onboard
Ehang says its taxi drone can withstand force seven typhoon winds
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Ehang says its taxi drone can withstand force seven typhoon winds
Ehang has been a little coy about its taxi drone since bringing a grounded prototype to CES in 2016
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Ehang has been a little coy about its taxi drone since bringing a grounded prototype to CES in 2016
A prototype of the Ehang taxi drone at CES in 2016
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A prototype of the Ehang taxi drone at CES in 2016
An early prototype of the Ehang taxi drone 
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An early prototype of the Ehang taxi drone 
A prototype of the Ehang taxi drone at CES in 2016
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A prototype of the Ehang taxi drone at CES in 2016

Ehang has been a little coy about its taxi drone since bringing a grounded prototype to CES in 2016. While we have been treated to footage of competing aircraft in action, like the Volocopter and Passenger Drone, the folks behind the Chinese company have mostly kept their progress under wraps. Today we've gotten our best look yet at the Ehang 184, with footage for the first time showing it carrying out test flights with people onboard.

The autonomous air taxi scene is becoming pretty crowded. Along with the examples mentioned above, Airbus, Intel, Boeing and Bell Helicopter are also pumping money into these futuristic vehicles. The designs vary, but all are essentially built to do the same thing, carry people autonomously across city environments as a way of overcoming pollution, congestion and the other inconveniences that come with traveling mostly along the ground.

Crafted from a carbon fiber and epoxy composite with an aluminum alloy frame, the Ehang 184's top speed is listed as 130 km/h (80 mph). Ehang says its aircraft can fly at cruising speed for 25 minutes at a time following a one-hour recharge of its electric motors, and that it can withstand force seven typhoon winds.

A prototype of the Ehang taxi drone at CES in 2016
A prototype of the Ehang taxi drone at CES in 2016

Until now, we've had to take the company's word for it when it comes to these capabilities, but a newly released video shows them being put through their paces. In it we can see a host of passengers climb into the aircraft, including Ehang CEO Huazhi Hu, and Chinese government officials such as deputy mayor of Guangzhou, Wang Dong.

The aircraft is shown working in some testing conditions, including heavy fog and what is claimed to be a force seven typhoon. It can also be seen flying at night, climbing to an altitude of 300 m (1,000 ft) and completing a long-range flight of 8.8 km (5.5 mi). The company does say it has covered a distance of 15 km (9.3 mi) previously, in separate testing.

"Performing manned test flights enables us to demonstrate the safety and stability of our vehicles," Hu said. "What we're doing isn't an extreme sport, so the safety of each passenger always comes first. Now that we've successfully tested the Ehang 184, I'm really excited to see what the future holds for us in terms of air mobility."

Crafted from a carbon fiber and epoxy composite with an aluminum alloy frame, the Ehang 184's top speed is listed as 130 km/h (80 mph)
Crafted from a carbon fiber and epoxy composite with an aluminum alloy frame, the Ehang 184's top speed is listed as 130 km/h (80 mph)

So how far away are we from seeing these things deployed in the real-world? Ehang already has an agreement with the State of Nevada to carry out testing there, and another with Dubai's transport authority to do the same. But testing and proving the safety of the aircraft is one thing, having the relevant authorities unshackle them for good will be another.

"This is a step-by-step process," said Hu. "And at Ehang, we have our own road map. When it comes to the development and application of any transformative technology, first the technological innovation makes an impact, then the relevant policies are created and developed. This goes on to push further development of the industry."

Check out the Ehang 184 in action in the video below.

Source: Ehang

EHang AAV Manned Flight Tests | Urban Air Mobility | EHang

24 comments
thk
It has been a long wait no more.
Towerman
Outstanding, The working product is in place, we need to start and train pilots for these vehicles now already and get this implemented into everyday life right now !
Gregg Eshelman
Looks like they've gotten thEhang of the human carrying multicopter.
J.B
So many different configurations; I think I saw 4, 6 & 8 rotor sets. And all presented as one flight. Is this real news?
CarolynFarstrider
Let;s hope the engineering of the devices is less messy than the grounds of the area where it was developed, launched and landed.
Paulinator
Someone is going to develop a more efficient large-diameter, single-rotor device that is driven by a reliable turbine engine and supplied with any of a variety of carbon-neutral, high energy-density and safely stored bio-fuels. ...and they'll call it a helicopter.
Grumpyrelic
The imagination covers of of 1950s Popular Mechanics and other magazines is now a reality 65 years later. Much safer than a single rotor helicopter and smoother. (We have had 2 fatal chopper crashes in Canada in the last year) Some people may think that a grubby grounds location reflects on the quality of the product but the Wright brothers flew from a sand pile.
Lardo
I will never understand the fascination with autonomous vehicles. Why people are so eager to trust life & limb to computers (which I guess never fail... right?) is beyond me. Not to mention they're freely - and willingly - surrendering a portion of their own freedom, in the process.
Bruce H. Anderson
No doubt this is cool, but please don't talk about "overcoming pollution" as one of the selling points. This is an energy hog, it is just displacing pollution elsewhere, and a LOT more at that. An electric bus or van is a better choice for the inner city. And they don't require heliports.
Grumpyrelic
Does an autonomous vehicle limit your freedoms? DUI does not exist for them. The old man who lost his license can still "drive" his car or "fly" his plane. Running red lights, speeding tickets, street racing and slowpokes would be a thing of the past. Insurance rates would go down and would no longer be dependent on the "driver". No need to produce a license to police. Perhaps the definition of "freedom" should be revisited. The "freedom" to carry a gun and go down the street and shoot people is not a freedom. It is a dereliction of responsibility. Doing this removes the deceased's freedom and right to live. Should one have the right to drive drunk and the freedom to run people over? I think not.