CES 2016: Ehang Autonomous Helicopter Will Take You Anywhere
The news coming out of CES has featured talk of drones and cars, but Chinese drone company Ehang is talking about its autonomous helicopter. It's called the Ehang 184 and it's an electric quadcopter scaled up from a drone into soemething large enough to carry a person. The Ehang 184 will carry one person up to 10 miles away, which is a roughly 23-minute flight. The person along for the ride doesn't have to do anything other than enjoy the ride. They're calling it a drone, but it's more like a fancy helicopter. It is capable of taking off, flying a set route, avoiding obstacles, and landing without any intervention from its human passenger. If anything goes wrong, then a real pilot can take over from a remote command station. RELATED: Watch This Giant Helicopter Airlift Another Helicopter
There are a few challenges to overcome before the Ehang 184 can take flight, namely the fact that it's not legal everywhere. It hasn't been tested in the US or even approved by the FAA for flight. This means there are no live demos at CES, although they say they've flown it in China.
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We'll have to take their word for it since there's not even video showing their vehicle in-flight with a passenger. There are autonomous rotorcraft out there, but they're not flying with people riding along. That's a big difference. According to The Verge, they did show a complete unit at the show and claim it will be for sale this year, so we'll have to wait and see if they can pull this off.
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