As might be expected, there are a lot of drones on display this week at CES. Almost all of them have one thing in common, however: people can’t ride in them. We say “almost all,” as there is one exception. Ehang’s 184 AAV (Autonomous Aerial Vehicle) is designed to carry a single human passenger, autonomously flying them from one location to another.
Ehang CEO Huazhi Hu began designing the one-seater electric drone a couple of years ago, after two of his pilot friends were killed in plane crashes. He decided that people needed a form of short-to-medium-distance personal air transport that didn’t require them to have a pilot’s license, and that took much of the danger out of low-altitude flight.
The idea behind the Chinese-built 184 is that users will simply get in, power it up, select their destination using a 12-inch touchscreen tablet display, then press the “take-off” button. The drone’s automated flight systems will take over from there, managing tasks such as communication with air traffic control and other aircraft, obstacle avoidance, and of course navigation – it will always choose the fastest yet safest route between its present location and its destination.
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