There were drones of all shapes and sizes at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas but there were none bigger than the autonomous EHang 184 which is big enough to fit a passenger.
Ehang 184 was just a prototype when it was on display at last year’s CES but since then the company has begun thorough testing in China.
The eco-friendly vehicle is basically designed for autonomous flight so a passenger can simply enter their destination and land there a short time later.
It is designed for short to medium length transportation.
The smart point-to-point flight will automatically carry the passenger to their intended destination and land with the assistance of cameras and sensors.
It’s the closest thing to a flying car we’ve seen and is a single click to take off and land.
There are no manual controls because that would require passengers to have their licence to legally fly Ehang 184 themselves.
But as an autonomous vehicle it simply becomes a passenger transfer vehicle.
On the safety side, Ehang has embedded several fail-safe systems so that of any component malfunctions the drone will in the nearest and safest area automatically.
Communication with each Ehang 184 AAV (automated aerial vehicle) is encrypted with each also having its own independent key.
The Ehang 184 is always connected to a low-altitude command centre which can take weather into account and automatically ground the flight if conditions are not suitable for flight.
While there has been a lot of noise around autonomous driving with all the major car manufacturers at CES, the era of self-driving cars is still years away.
But autonomous flight, as we can see with the EHang 184, could be approved and up and running even sooner.
Recently the ride-sharing service Uber released a white-paper on the future of its service.
In it was a plan to create a network called Elevate with on-demand fully electric aircraft – just like the EHang 184 – taking off and landing vertically to pick up and deliver their passengers to their destination.