It’s no secret the drone industry is blowing up. We’ve got regular drones, tiny drones, drones with infrared cameras, drones that follow you around like a lost puppy, drones that you can fly while wearing virtual reality goggles because you are a robot from the future sent back in time to save Sarah Connor.
Well, you can forget all that, because Chinese company EHang has made the craziest drone yet. Called the EHang 184, it’s an all-electric quadcopter the size of a Smart Car. And it has a seat. For a person to sit in.
Look at this thing!
What makes this different from a helicopter, you might ask? Well, helicopters aren’t autonomous — you need a trained pilot to fly ’em. The EHang 184’s cockpit has no flight controls to speak of. Instead, a passenger would simply get on board, enter their destination, and hold on for dear life as they’re automatically whisked away autonomously.
The navigation process is backed up by a “24/7, real-time flight command center.” That, the company says, means “passengers have no need for a pilot’s license.” That sound you’re hearing right now? It’s Federal Aviation Administration staffers’ heads exploding.
Read more: What it’s like to go to a ‘drone rodeo’
One question: What happens when the EHang breaks, as aircraft are wont to do? After all, flying is only one part of being a pilot. Responding to emergencies is another, far more important task. In a press release, EHang says that “in the event of an emergency, passengers can elect to halt flight and simply hover in the air with just one click.” Sounds nice — but what if hovering is impossible because the engines failed?
Still, there is undeniable appeal in this idea. Getting around by taking to the skies is unquestionably better than driving from Point A to Point B while stuck in traffic behind the F-150 with the HONK TWICE FOR TRUMP bumper sticker and TruckNutz dangling off the back. But as much as I’d love to actually own one of these things, there are far too many speedbumps to see the 184 taking off any time soon.
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