Like every year, the start of January welcomed the latest edition of the “CES Tech Show” (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas (NV, USA) with a motto that clearly states its objective: to bring the future of technological innovation to the market or, in other words, to the consumer. And, once again, it did not disappoint.
Aviation was in the spotlight thanks to the unveiling of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) that can carry people: the EHang-184. According to the manufacturer’s specifications, this UAV can transport a passenger who weighs up to 100 kg at a speed of 100 km/h for 23 minutes. Its batteries take about two hours to recharge.
According to the manufacturer, the three philosophies behind the EHang-184 project are: a safety-oriented design, automation and the availability of a flight management platform.
Indeed, the most exciting news is that the passenger does not pilot the aircraft; they simply have to choose their destination from a tablet. Then the vehicle autonomously takes over the flight.
The El EHang-184 has four arms with horizontal rotors that are automatically controlled so that the flight takes place under optimal conditions, depending on the environmental factors affecting each flight. According to the manufacturer, even if half of its rotors were to fail, the UAV would be able to perform an emergency landing in a controlled situation.
There is no doubt that technology is advancing towards unmanned vehicles (aerial or otherwise), but there are a number of non-technological issues that need to be solved. They include issues relating to airspace safety, legislation (which varies greatly between countries) and, above all, the lack of confidence that people still have in flying without somebody manning the controls. It is a matter of time.
Link to the manufacturer’s website: http://www.ehang.com/