Autonomous Passenger Drone swoops onto the flying taxi scene
The field of flying taxis is one that is starting to fill up. Joining the likes of the Ehang 184 and Volocopter is the newly announced Passenger Drone, which is built to help usher in an era of personal aerial transportation by autonomously carrying people from point A to point B.
Just like the Ehang 184 and Volocopter, the Passenger Drone comes equipped with a touchscreen that allows users to punch in their destination and then have the autonomous software take care of the actual flying. These kinds of short-range pilotless aircraft could have huge ramifications for how people move around cities, and nowhere is keener than Dubai to see how they fare, this week kicking off trials of the Volocopter with tests of Ehang's personal taxi drone also in the pipeline.
The makers of the Passenger Drone tell us they are currently testing the vehicle in Europe and have carried out manned flights with one person onboard. The aircraft is built from carbon fiber composites and features a total of 16 rotors, each powered by its own electric motor. There is also a joystick should it need to be flown manually, and two passenger seats, one behind the other.
"Range is 30 to 35 mins with speed of 30 to 35 knots (34 to 40 mph)," Passenger Drone's Peter Delco explains to New Atlas. "These are the realistic numbers. There are other VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) projects out there promising hours of flying in the air but it is just impossible with current battery technology. So range is around 20 miles (32 km)."
This kind of range should be plenty enough for the kind of trips imagined for the Passenger Drone, one day helping to alleviate traffic by simply hoisting urban folk over the top of it. Like all VTOL projects, there is obviously a ways to go before the Passenger Drone enters use, not just in terms of proving the technology, but also in getting the all-clear from lawmakers to allow it to fly around cities. But another player on the scene won't do the industry's chances any harm.
Delco tells us the company will be showing off its work at CES in January next year, along with other trade shows in Europe and the US.
You can see the Passenger Drone take flight in the videos below – the first shows an unmanned flight, while the second is of the first manned flight test. The image gallery also offers a good look at it in action.
Source: Passenger Drone