EHang's 184 prototype (which hasn't been actually tested until now) is "the safest, smartest and eco-friendliest low altitude autonomous aerial vehicle". Passengers that are to travel a short or medium-long distance (for up to 23 minutes) are supposed to simply board, enter their desired destination via 12-inch touchscreen control panel and take off by clicking the "take-off" button. The single-seater electric drone is to rely on its autonomous flight systems after that, with passenger safety on top of developer's priority list. While navigating the flight path, the drone is said to be able to autonomously avoid obstacles and communicate with air traffic control systems.
As with most prototype or upcoming autonomous vehicles and aircrafts, also with EHang's 184 drone, the autonomous flying taxis, the thing that makes us all wonder is – how will it work in real life? How safe will it be, taking part in real traffic? Some answers are expected to be answered shortly, when the passenger drone is finally flight-tested for the first time.
Reportedly, there are now two potential partners, considering to join forces with the Chinese EHang, Inc., a technological innovation company specializing in Research & Development, manufacturing, and sales of intelligent aerial vehicles. One is a biotech firm called Lung Biotechnology, which is already working with EHang in order to make the autonomous aircraft suitable for organ deliveries; and the other one is the US state of Nevada, which has officially allowed the company to test their drone at Nevada's FAA-approved test site.
According to EHang, they made teaming agreement with The Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS). "The State of Nevada, through NIAS, will help guide EHang through the FAA regulatory process with the ultimate goal of achieving safe flight," said Tom Wilczek, GOED's Aerospace and Defense Industry Specialist. "EHang's selection of Nevada to test its people-carrying drone marks a thrilling addition to the innovative companies testing throughout our state to advance the commercial drone industry. I personally look forward to the day when drone taxis are part of Nevada's transportation system."
EHang expects to begin testing at the Nevada FAA UAS Test Site in 2016, and will work closely with NIAS over the coming months to work through the UAS flight requirements.