Forget UAVs. It’s all about AAVs

The world’s first personal Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) was unveiled at CES today. Developed by Chinese unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) company EHang and humbly called the EHang 184, the AAV is a fully ready-to-fly manned drone.

The way it works is that the passenger enters a destination into the drone’s smartphone app and then sits back and enjoys the views as it flies to the destination.

Now, you might be thinking: “Isn’t that quite chaotic? Mini-helicopter bumper cars up in the sky is kinda dangerous don’t you think?”

Yes it is quite dangerous. Luckily this thing’s sporting a fully automated navigation system, and a 24/7, real-time flight command center. The company claims that passengers don’t even need a pilot’s license.

At the launch, EHang CEO Huazhi Hu said, “The 184 provides a viable solution to the many challenges the transportation industry faces in a safe and energy efficient way.”

“I truly believe that EHang will make a global impact across dozens of industries beyond personal travel. The 184 is evocative of a future we’ve always dreamed of and is primed to alter the very fundamentals of the way we get around.”

EHang 184: Significant features:

  • Automated flight eliminates the most dangerous part of standard modes of transportation: human error.
  • The EHang 184 has built in reinforcements for all flight systems, so that in the unlikely event that a component does fail, multiple backups are already in place to seamlessly take over.
  • EHang’s independently developed Fail-Safe System ensures that if any components malfunction, or if there’s damage while the AAV is in-flight (i.e. from a bird), the aircraft will immediately begin taking the necessary precautions to ensure safety. The 184’s Fail-Safe System automatically evaluates the damage and determines whether the AAV will need to land to ensure its passenger’s safety.
EHang 184
The world first electric, personal Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) – EHang 184
  • The EHang 184 AAV flight control systems have multiple sets of sensors that provide the drone a constant stream of real-time data.
  • The 184’s communication system was also designed with a safety guarantee: every system is encrypted, and each AAV comes with an independent key.
  • In the event of an emergency, passengers can elect to halt flight and simply hover in the air with just one click.
  • Automation: The 184 uses multiple independent flight control systems to automatically navigate passengers from point A to point B. These systems combine real-time data collected from sensors throughout the flight and automatically plot the fastest and safest route to carry passengers to their destinations.
  • Remedy for Aging Transportation Industry: The EHang 184 AAV takes off and lands vertically, subsequently eliminating the need for runways. Its foldable design solves the logistical and spatial issues that have constrained airplanes and other modes of air-travel from expanding into daily use. Mass-adoption of the 184 has the potential to streamline congested traffic and dramatically reduce the kinds of accidents associated with any human-operated vehicle.
  • The Power of Electricity: The 184 is 100 per cent electric and doesn’t depend on fossil fuels, reducing our reliance on substances that can be environmentally damaging.
  • Sync-flight Management Platform: EHang is also building an advanced low-altitude flight command center which will be in constant contact with all of its flying vehicles. While the 184 is able to fly during thunderstorms and other extreme weather conditions, the command center can prohibit the AAV from taking off as a precaution.

EHang 184: Drone Specs and Passenger Experience

Standing 1.5 meters tall and weighing 200 kilograms (440 pounds), the EHang 184 AAV has a load capacity of 100 kilograms (220 pounds), with the maximum output of 106W powered by eight motors. It’s designed to have the capability to carry a single passenger for 23 minutes’ duration flight at sea level at average cruising speed of 100 km/h.

The EHang 184 AAV body consists of a cabin for single passenger with a gull-wing door, a trunk and the power system composed of four arms and eight propellers on the bottom. The four arms, when folded, allow the AAV to occupy the same size parking space as consumer cars.

Inside the cabin is placed a single seat, with a design similar to an F1 racing car seat. In front of the seat is a tablet console, through which passengers can easily input commands. Additionally, the cabin’s built-in air conditioner automatically adjusts the in-cabin temperature. Complete with 4G Wi-Fi Internet, EHang 184 provides passengers with comfortable and enjoyable riding experiences.