The ride of the future may be a flying drone taxi – at least, that’s what Chinese manufacturer EHang is hedging on. The company is partnering with the state of Nevada to test a driverless, flying drone taxi. These vehicles are single-seated and autonomously flown, designed to transport a sole passenger on short trips – perfect for a quick flight down the Las Vegas strip! Coming in at 18 feet long and a robust 440 pounds, the drone is equipped with eight propellers, four arms and can reach speeds of up to 63 mph. Distance wise, the drone can fly for about 23 minutes, or roughly 20 miles given that it’s unlikely to encounter traffic in the air. Currently, the drone is being developed, tested and trained at Nevada’s FAA UAS Test Site.
As for passengers, all they have to do is climb onboard, strap themselves in and input their destination on an onboard tablet. There’s a simple take off/land button the passenger will push to start and end their journey, but the drone is completely autonomous otherwise and would not require the passenger to possess any piloting skills. The drone lands and takes off in a vertical manner, negating the need for a runaway to ascend and descend. “EHang’s selection of Nevada to test its people-carrying drone marks a thrilling addition to the innovative companies testing throughout our state to advance the commercial drone industry,” Tom Wilczek, GOED’s Aerospace and Defense Industry Specialist, said. Hopefully what happens in Nevada won’t stay in Nevada!