June 8, 2016
The future depicted by Hollywood is officially here—or at least on the way.
Chinese firm Ehang plans to begin testing a fully autonomous drone capable of carrying human passengers in Nevada, according to the state’s Office of Economic Development.
The Ehang 184 debuted earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show. Capable of carrying up to 220 pounds worth of human cargo, the drone has a range of less than 2.2 miles. That’s not especially useful today, but EHang has indicated that this first model is a step toward drones with a higher carrying capacity and a greater range.
The initial Ehang 184 features a 12.0-inch touchscreen display that will allow passengers to input their destination. Officials call them drone taxis, and while Ehang has said their model could be ready for sales as soon as this year, initial testing will be done in order to submit reports to the FAA. A host of regulatory hurdles exist between Ehang’s testing in Nevada and any eventual sale of drone taxis to the public, however.
Ehang plans to locate a small number of employees in Nevada initially for its testing, but it hasn’t said just where it will take up residence in the Silver State.