Ehang said this week they have flown “40 or so” passengers in their autonomous VTOL, the Ehang 184, and a video of the flights is now posted online. “Performing manned test flights enables us to demonstrate the safety and stability of our vehicles,” said Ehang founder and CEO, Huazhi Hu. “What we’re doing isn’t an extreme sport, so the safety of each passenger always comes first. Now that we’ve successfully tested the Ehang 184, I’m really excited to see what the future holds for us in terms of air mobility.” Hu was among the passengers who flew in the drone, as well as local officials and company employees. The video shows both a single-seat version and a two-seater flying. The video also shows a cockpit equipped with a control stick and rudder pedals.
Ehang’s staff of more than 150 engineers have conducted thousands of unmanned test flights, the company said, including a vertical climbing test reaching up to nearly 1,000 feet, a load test carrying about 500 pounds, a routed test covering more than 9 miles and a high-speed cruising test that reached about 70 knots. “We’ve been developing and testing aerial vehicle technology for some time now, and we’re finally at the test flight stage for the AAV [autonomous aerial vehicle],” said Hu. “It’s been a huge success.” The company is still working to improve the AAV, and plans to add an optional manual control for those who prefer to operate the vehicle themselves. The company also is developing a two-seat version with a payload of more than 600 pounds. “Our dreams of the future are real,” says Hu. “Fantasy has now become reality.”