South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas has always been the go-to conference for tech startups and tech giants alike to share their latest innovations. It has also always been at the forefront of premiering the best drone technology. Last year, Amazon debuted their delivery drones to eager drone enthusiasts and this year, Chinese-based tech startup Ehang followed suit by premiering their ‘The Jetsons’ style single-passenger drone at the event.
The single-passenger drone was first introduced as a prototype in 2016 but they have now successfully created and tested it. At a panel during SXSW, Derrick Xiong, co-founder of Ehang, shared his excitement about this project becoming a reality. “We’re happy at where we’ve arrived,” Xiong said. “We firmly believe what we are doing is the future, and the future is coming very soon.”
The technology is so sought after that both Boeing and Uber are also investing in this technology and the company. The EHANG184 model is powered by four electric propellers, with another prototype powered with eight props and carries two passengers. The passenger drone has been tested in a variety of weather conditions to ensure its durability and safety.
The way in which the drone works is that it is driven by a guided flight path, which Xiong compares to a drone show, where hundreds of drones run in a synchronised way. That similar to the 2017 Super Bowl halftime or shown at the Winter Olympics. Synchronized traffic systems are something that Xiong believes is very possible with passenger drones. He states that the biggest challenge that this type of technology will face “will be people’s mentality.”
Well, tell us what you think? Are you sceptical about these ‘flying cars’?
Written by Rebecca