Over the years, the Consumer Electronics Show has drawn attention for introducing cool electronics. 2016 has held true to this tradition, and a Chinese company Ehang stole the show. According to Architectural Digest, Ehang has taken the drone industry to new heights, literally. Their new product, Ehang 184, is what they refer to as an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV). It is basically a drone a passenger may ride in, at least for a few miles.
Unlike other drones that would be flown by remote control, the 184 is more like a self-driving car. One passenger gets in to the vehicle, sits in an air conditioned cockpit, and may just enjoy the view, or anything they would like to do. The vehicle can fly as high as 11,000 feet, and can go up to 20 miles without being recharged. This drone is a wonderful idea, but as with other great thoughts, this concept comes with a host of other problems and questions.
These questions include: What is the target market? Do they plan on selling it in the US? How is it programmed? What if it is hacked? What is the life expectancy of the vehicle? How easy is maintenance? and many more questions that need to be addressed. Once those issues are resolved, don’t think you can run out and get one, unless of course you have 200-300k just lying around.
The idea of an autonomous drone is intriguing, and it would be interesting to see them in public. Think of all the traffic problems it would solve, just because it can fly. If you were brave enough to try it, your travel times would potentially be reduced, along with your stress.
Because of it’s price, most people would not be able to afford this luxury. However, if it was owned by a company, the possibilities are greater. You can imagine major companies providing an AAV to their executives, or perhaps a limo or cab company supplying them to rent. There are several scenarios where you could expect to see them. Think Uber in the air.
Will the AAV be the wave of the future, or just a ripple in a big pond? We can only watch and see. No matter what though, the technology opens doors to the future of where the industry may be headed. It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, this advancement will make. If Ehang can get through the regulations, we may be one step closer to the flying car.