Image Credit: eHang
If you are anything like us, there will have been times where you were flying your drone thinking I wish I could fly inside the drone. Well short of a ‘honey I shrunk the kids’ situation right now that is not possible. But with advances in technology you may not actually have to wait that long.
I’m not suggesting you attach a load of drones together to lift you in the air like this guy. Thats just plain crazy!
Companies are actually looking at taking some of the technologies behind drones and scaling them up to create human sized flying machines. Now we understand that ultralight or personal planes are not a new concept. But this has potential to be the next generation of flying with the technologies that are being applied.
Now the legality and rules that would have to created around these machines is a whole different story. We are entering the stage in technology where automated navigation and control is starting become popular and accepted in mainstream transportation. These life size drones will follow that trend by having onboard computers that plot routes and can navigate them without needing manual control.
A great example of this technology is the eHang 184, its a life size drone for one person weighing 240KG, flight time of 25 minutes, max speed of 60 kph (37 mph) and 3500m flight distance above sea level. It is powered by eight motors and has a ‘fast charge’ time of just 1 hour.
If you haven’t heard of eHang, they are a company based in Guangzhou, China with branches all around the world. Interestingly they make smaller scale drones including the Falcon and Ghost. This is positive because they know the technology and they are scaling up their current technologies rather than starting from scratch.
The eHang 148 is controlled by an onboard app that works by simply plotting pins on a map. The idea is that the system is automated and will use its navigation system to get you as close to your destination as safely possible. It has fail safes similar to ‘return to home’ if it is running low on charge or a malfunction occurs.
We are still a long way from having any kind of air control system that could handle these types of vehicle. Let alone finding a way to insure them or provide suitable safety measures for people on the ground. But we would love to live to see the day that they are introduced and we start to live in a Fifth Element kind of world.
In the meantime you can check out the eHang 148 test flight video here.