Signs of the future could be on its way with Chinese UAV company EHang receiving permission to test fly its innovative passenger drone in Nevada this year.
The EHang 184 is an autonomously controlled drone much like the radio controlled units available on the market today with the slight difference being that it can carry one human-sized passenger. The Institute for Autonomous Systems granted EHang the green light to test the drone’s basic flight capabilities whilst also throwing its support behind the program to reinforce the airworthiness of autonomous single-seaters to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Of course we’ll still be a long way off from seeing passengers in drones since air space is restricted in most parts of the world today. For now Nevada may well be the perfect testing bed thus far for the UAV drone as it consists of an expansive desert area as well as a robust tourism industry that could help leverage the project in the long run.
Mark Barker of The Institute told the Las Vegas Review Journal that he’s keen to see the day when “drone taxis” become a part of everyday transport. Think a future where a robotic drone picks you up from an airport and whisks you away to your favourite casino without having to battle ground traffic.
If there’s any place to get such an audacious project off the ground, it’s the U.S. And if it’s money the project requires, Las Vegas is the right place to set up shop.