EHang this week released footage of the latest test flights of its EHang 184 personal Autonomous Aerial Vehicle. The EHang 184 can transport a single person at up to 130kph in Force 7 typhoon conditions, the company said. EHang plans to further improve the passenger experience and add an optional manual control so passengers with piloting experience can operate the AAV manually. It also has developed and tested a two-seater craft that can carry up to 280kg. In 2017, EHang was granted AS9100C certification. TechNewsWorld
EHANG has released footage and further details of successful manned test flights of the EHang 184 passenger drone.
Your average CEO doesn’t put their money where their mouth is to quite the same extent as EHANG’s Huazhi Hu. No doubt his counterparts at Apple and Tesla try out new products on a regular basis. They might even take them home. But sitting in your company’s passenger drone on one of its maiden flight tests is a different matter.
Other test flight passengers have included the deputy mayor of Guangzhou and more than 150 technical engineers. In total, the Chinese drone manufacturer has conducted thousands of manned flights to date.
The promise of passenger drones has moved from science fiction to reality in recent years. And with heavy investment from the likes of Intel and Boeing, competition is fierce.
EHANG was founded in 2014, and although the company has released a number of smaller autonomous models designed for photography, the people-carrying 184 has always been the one to capture the imagination and make headlines.
The 184, claims EHANG, can take off, land, and navigate autonomously. Human pilots are on hand – albeit remotely – should anything go wrong during a flight.
According to a statement from the company, the 184 has completed a vertical climbing test, reaching a height of 300m, and a loaded test flight carrying approximately 230 kg. The passenger drone has also successfully completed missions spanning 15 km and hit speeds of 130 km/h.
CEO Hu, said “Performing manned test flights enables us to demonstrate the safety and stability of our vehicles.
“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.”
The question remains whether EHANG’s 184 will be ever take off as part of an on-demand public transport system – such as the one planned for Dubai – or if it will become an exclusive toy for the wealthy. In the short term, at least, the latter seems more probable.
The electric 184 and passenger drones like it remain far beyond the boundaries of what current legislation in Europe and North America has been developed for. Proving safety and reliability will be key; a single serious accident would put an end to the dreams of passenger drone advocates – at least in the near future.
“This is a step-by-step process,” said Hu, “and at EHANG, we have our own roadmap. 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.”
But there’s no doubt that EHANG is making progress. Test flights aside, last year the company was granted the AS9100C certification – a quality management system recognised globally in the aerospace industry. It is also working closely with the Civil Aviation Administration of China to keep its developments in line with changing regulations.
Internet of Business says
Electric, rotary-wing drones have multiple points of failure, and so have everything to prove in commercial applications. But in the short to medium term, the obstacles in the way of passenger drones and other autonomous vehicles are more legislative than technical, in the West at least. And they have a significant social impact too: 3.4 million people work as drivers in the US alone. Drone cargo flights are a more immediate prospect in the UK, Europe, and the US. However, in countries such as UAE, China, and Japan, passenger drones may be adopted more quickly as they seek to gain a technological edge – come what may.
Chinese drone maker Ehang wowed visitors at CES 2016 when it brought along a prototype of its passenger drone; however, it didn’t have much else to show at the time. Now, it’s released footage of the 184 in flight with a passenger for the first time, with the company’s CEO on board. Following ‘1000 tests’, Ehang took to YouTube to show off the drone in action with CEO Huazhi Hu, as well as other senior management, and deputy mayor of the Chinese city of Guangzhou, where the trials took place. Besides talking up the 184’s ease of use, Hu also…
As Waymo and its many rivals prepare to roll out driverless cars to consumers, one of their challenges has been to design an experience for riders that feels both convenient and safe.
For a sense of the state of the art, it’s worth flipping through this new 43-page safety report (pdf) from Waymo, the self-driving tech subsidiary of Google’s parent Alphabet. In April, the company announced it would be testing a fleet of 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans in Phoenix, Ariz. Waymo is also operating its cars — which include 70 Lexus SUVs — on public roads in Washington, Texas, and California.
Getting a ride and starting off
Waymo’s test cars are being run as an on-demand service, which riders can hail through a mobile app. After getting seated, passengers start the ride by pressing a “start ride” button, either within the app or on an in-car display. It’s a small but sensible nuance that gives passengers some level of control over the ride, allowing them to ensure they’re settled and ready before the driverless car starts moving.
Seeing what the car sees
During the course of the ride, the in-car display will show passengers pertinent information like their route and expected time of arrival. But it will also show them what the car is seeing with its visual system, including its camera and other sensors like lidar and radar. This is designed to be comforting and educational — so “riders can understand what the vehicle is perceiving and responding to, and be confident in the vehicle’s capabilities.”
Controlling the ride
The whole point of a self-driving car is that it drives itself. But Waymo has outfitted its cars with a “pull over” button, which identifies the first safe place to pull over so riders can exit. Another button can reach Waymo’s rider support team to answer questions or help out.
Handling unsafe conditions or an accident
The car will find a way to come to a safe stop if it detects unsafe driving conditions. In the rare occurrence of an accident, the car will also communicate instructions using audio and visual cues.
Autonomous vehicles hold a great deal of promise for people with disabilities. So Alphabet is designing its cars with that in mind. For example, Waymo is taking advantage of accessibility features built into Android and iOS that replace visual controls with speech controls. In addition to labeling the “start ride” and other buttons with Braille, Alphabet is experimenting with so-called “wayfinding” features, which help visually impaired passengers find their cars by making a guiding sound.
The big picture
When designing the human-car interface and experience, Waymo says it has four main goals:
Giving passengers the information they need for a seamless trip.
Helping passengers anticipate what’s next.
Proactively communicating the vehicle’s response to events on the road.
Helping passengers engage safely with the vehicle.
Dubai was serious when it said it wants to be first in the world to offer a flying taxi service. That's why on Monday, it staged a maiden test flight for one of its potential taxis: a two-seater, 18-rotor unmanned flying vehicle made by German firm V… Engadget RSS Feed