Meet Ehang’s Human-Carrying Drone

Ehang's 184 drone can carry one human passenger and fly up to 60 MPH. The prototype drone, which debuted at CES 2016, is controlled by tablet.


Hats off to Ehang for grabbing the drone spotlight at CES 2016. The Chinese drone maker introduced its autonomous, human-carrying drone called “184” in Vegas that can carry up to 220lb.

Now, Ehang says its designed to carry one human passenger, but knowing how the Federal Aviation Administration works, this thing will never see the light of day in the United States. However, Ehang said at CES that it’s working closely with government agencies on the 184.

The 184 (one passenger, eight propellers, four arms) is an electric-powered drone that can be fully charged in two hours and fly for 23 minutes with a top speed of 63 MPH. The cabin has air conditioning and a reading light.

Ehang says 184 has all sorts of built-in failsafes, including multiple power backups, auto-landing in case of trouble, and an On-Star-like command center for fliers who need help. After setting a flight plan, passengers needed only to give two commands – “take off” and “land” – done with a single click on a tablet, the company said.

Shang Hsiao, Ehang’s co-founder and chief financial officer, tells The Guardian his company hoped to sell the device for $200,000-$300,000 this year but acknowledged it occupied a legal grey area. “The whole world never had something like this before.”

Would you take a ride in Ehang’s 184? Count me in.




About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
Contact Steve Crowe: scrowe@ehpub.com  ·  View More by Steve Crowe.




Comments

Totally_Lost · January 11, 2016 · 11:49 am

The other biggest safety reason for requiring 1,000ft operation is that would enable use of a ballistic parachute system ... operating below 400ft really limits getting the parachute open in time to arrest the fall.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light-sport_aircraft
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistic_Recovery_Systems

Totally_Lost · January 11, 2016 · 11:40 am

At a bit less than 700lbs gross take-off weight that craft can in theory be qualified under Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) licensing if the FAA can be convinced to accept fail safe multi-rotor craft designs into that category ... right now helicopters are not acceptable, although gyrocopters are. LSA use has a speed restriction just under what they craft is rated at, so that is in the right ball park. The biggest difference is that LSA would require flight at about 1,000 above ground level, not below 400ft as these guys are proposing. Biggest problem with 400ft is that it’s just over people heads and there isn’t any room to find a safe landing zone if there is a problem ... raising flight elevation to above 1,000 expands the emergency landing area significantly. Mostly likely they will need to increase prop size by a few inches, and carry a bit more battery to make that practical.

Mostly likely thing is that China will adopt rules for their use over there, and with a demonstrated safety record in China/Asia there will be considerable pressure on the FAA to adopt them here as well.

LSA pilot licensing is streamlined, and would make the most sense for a craft like this. It would most likely require the craft to have some simplified controls in flight to take control if needed, but otherwise go ahead a use the fully automated flight controls.

Steve Crowe · January 11, 2016 · 10:05 am

Wow, so you really think this will be legal in the US? I just don’t see it, but we’ll have to wait and see. Did you hear the joke Jimmy Fallon made about the 184?  Basically called the 184 a helicopter and that everyone needs to stop being so excited by this. I couldn’t get the FAA to comment on it at the show, but I’m sure they will at some point.

Totally_Lost · January 9, 2016 · 6:45 pm

From another sources reading the CES lit: “The drone is about four-and-a-half feet tall, weighs 440 pounds” From the Ehang 184 website, the props are 59”. It’s said to have flown in China with human.  CES video has more background on development, people, etc. Chucking the numbers into a mathematical model produces static thrust and power results in the same ballpark as the companies website specs. So yes, this is much more likely than Moller Skycar to take flight at least in China, and the USA later.

Totally_Lost · January 8, 2016 · 12:27 pm

Hey Steve did they say how heavy the craft was empty?  Does the prototype actually fly?

The website is a tad light on spec’s, and all the pic/video appears to be rendered images, nothing real.


Totally_Lost · January 8, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Hey Steve did they say how heavy the craft was empty?  Does the prototype actually fly?

The website is a tad light on spec’s, and all the pic/video appears to be rendered images, nothing real.

Totally_Lost · January 9, 2016 at 6:45 pm

From another sources reading the CES lit: “The drone is about four-and-a-half feet tall, weighs 440 pounds” From the Ehang 184 website, the props are 59”. It’s said to have flown in China with human.  CES video has more background on development, people, etc. Chucking the numbers into a mathematical model produces static thrust and power results in the same ballpark as the companies website specs. So yes, this is much more likely than Moller Skycar to take flight at least in China, and the USA later.

Steve Crowe · January 11, 2016 at 10:05 am

Wow, so you really think this will be legal in the US? I just don’t see it, but we’ll have to wait and see. Did you hear the joke Jimmy Fallon made about the 184?  Basically called the 184 a helicopter and that everyone needs to stop being so excited by this. I couldn’t get the FAA to comment on it at the show, but I’m sure they will at some point.

Totally_Lost · January 11, 2016 at 11:40 am

At a bit less than 700lbs gross take-off weight that craft can in theory be qualified under Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) licensing if the FAA can be convinced to accept fail safe multi-rotor craft designs into that category ... right now helicopters are not acceptable, although gyrocopters are. LSA use has a speed restriction just under what they craft is rated at, so that is in the right ball park. The biggest difference is that LSA would require flight at about 1,000 above ground level, not below 400ft as these guys are proposing. Biggest problem with 400ft is that it’s just over people heads and there isn’t any room to find a safe landing zone if there is a problem ... raising flight elevation to above 1,000 expands the emergency landing area significantly. Mostly likely they will need to increase prop size by a few inches, and carry a bit more battery to make that practical.

Mostly likely thing is that China will adopt rules for their use over there, and with a demonstrated safety record in China/Asia there will be considerable pressure on the FAA to adopt them here as well.

LSA pilot licensing is streamlined, and would make the most sense for a craft like this. It would most likely require the craft to have some simplified controls in flight to take control if needed, but otherwise go ahead a use the fully automated flight controls.

Totally_Lost · January 11, 2016 at 11:49 am

The other biggest safety reason for requiring 1,000ft operation is that would enable use of a ballistic parachute system ... operating below 400ft really limits getting the parachute open in time to arrest the fall.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light-sport_aircraft
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistic_Recovery_Systems


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