drone maker Ehang Inc unveiled what it calls the world’s first drone
capable of carrying a human passenger at the Consumer Electronics Show
in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
The company said it is anticipating large-scale commercial use of its
Ehang 184 takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter but with four
double-propellers spinning parallel to the ground like other drones.
Having the destination input, the automatic flight control system will
choose the fastest, safest route to fly the passenger, who only needs to
give two commands, "take off" and "land", on a touchscreen tablet.
The new means of point-to-point, short flights can be applied in a wide
range of areas including urban traffic, tourism, logistics, emergency
medical treatment and disaster relief, said Derrick Xiong, Ehang’s
co-founder and chief marketing officer.
He revealed that his company plans to sell the drone at a price of
$200,000 to $300,000 per unit. Xiong said that vehicle rental, taxi
service, e-commerce and logistics companies had approached Ehang during
the CES after the innovative drone was unveiled and grabbed the
spotlight at the show.
The Guangzhou, Guangdong province-based company expects to put the
passenger-carrying drone into practical use within this year, according
The breakthrough is likely to be made in Guangzhou or its sister city
Auckland in New Zealand, for the mayor of Auckland showed interest upon
hearing about the drone’s concept in previous talks with Ehang, he said.
"We will make sure the use of the passenger-carrying drone is in line
with local laws and regulations of where it flies," Xiong said.
"Currently there are no regulations that apply to such products because
it is an entirely new category of technology. We are working closely
with government agencies on addressing this big challenge in the way of
the large-scale commercial use of passenger-carrying drones."
"Ehang 184 was not launched as a gimmick. We are open to all kinds of
voices in the market and will keep improving the product," he said. "Our
ultimate goal is that the drone can be part of the urban traffic system,
serving as a green supplement to the transportation on the ground to
ease traffic jams."
Gao Yuanyang, director of the general aviation industry research center
at Beihang University in Beijing, held that it is "too early" to talk
about putting passenger-carrying drones into commercial use. "I don’t
think it will be realized in at least the next 15 years. We need to make
laws and regulations to ensure the air vehicle’s safety and ponder over
how to coordinate it with other means in the traffic system," Gao told