Getting a Lift: World's first passenger drone makes maiden public flight in China
There've been lots of talk as of late about self-driving cars. Going above that, literally, are self-flying passenger drones. On Tuesday, the world's first passenger drone took flight in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. CGTN's Ge Yunfei was there to experience it himself. Let's take a look.
Floating vehicles zooming between skyscrapers, seemingly unhindered by gravity. That used to be in the exclusive realm of science fiction. But the dream of flying over traffic is now closer to reality. The world's first passenger drone, the EHang 184, made its first public flight on Tuesday. All passengers need to do is get into the small cabin and fasten their seatbelts. The automated flight system takes over from there.
HU HUAZHI, CEO EHANG "All the traditional flying vehicles cannot achieve the goal of fully autonomous flying, so it's still far away from being used in daily commuting. But today's flight means the scenes that we used to only see in sci-fi movies are now very close to common people."
The drone's maker EHang says the vehicle runs on electric batteries. It can carry one person weighing up to 100 kilograms at a time. The drone can cruise at an altitude of 500 meters and fly at a maximum speed of 100 kilometers per hour, covering up to 64 kilometers on a single charge.
GE YUNFEI GUANGZHOU "Wow, it's an insanely amazing ride. I'm really a bad singer, but now all I want to do is to sing I believe I can fly."
The company says the drone's been tested over a thousand times and is designed to withstand moderate gale with winds of up to 50 km per hour. But the biggest concern remains safety.
HU HUAZHI, CEO EHANG "We have special fail-safe systems that take over in the event of malfunctions, plus passengers can get the drone to stop and hover in place if needed. I believe this year we could get flying permits in 80 percent of the countries and regions around the world."
Last year, the city of Dubai announced a plan to cooperate with EHang to develop self-flying taxis taking people across the city. How exactly will autonomous driving or flying reshape urban transportation?
EHang says the final commercial product will fly into the market possibly within the year. Ge Yunfei, CGTN, Guangzhou.