EHang 184 passenger drone makes first public flight in China

EHang 184 passenger drone makes first public flight in China

EHang 184 passenger drone makes first public flight in China

Updated 7 February 2018, 16:30 AEDT

Like a scene from a sci-fi movie, the world's first passenger drone takes off in China with its developer eyeing off grand plans to boost tourism and help people avoid traffic.

The world's first passenger drone has made its first public flight in China, taking off from Guangzhou City.

Key points:

  • EHang 184 can carry one passenger weighing up to 100kg
  • The passenger drone is electrically powered
  • The company tested the drone 1,000 times before it made its first public flight

With the newly developed EHang 184, all passengers need to do is to get into the small cabin and fasten their seat belts and the automated flight system then takes over.

"None of the traditional flying vehicles can achieve the goal of fully autonomous flying, so they are still far away from common people," EHang chief executive officer Hu Huazhi said.

"But our successful flight today means the scenes that we used to only see in sci-fi movies are now very close to common people."

The electrically powered EHang 184 can carry a single passenger weighing up to 100 kilograms for a 23-minute flight at sea level at a speed of 100 kilometres per hour.

The company said the drone has been tested over 1,000 times and is designed to withstand moderate gales with winds of up to 50 kilometres per hour.

The drones will reportedly cost between $US200,000 ($253,000) and $300,000 ($380,000).

Last year the city of Dubai announced a plan to cooperate with EHang to develop self-flying taxis taking people across the city.

The company is eyeing a broader market.

"[The drone can] help people to avoid the traffic on the ground, but also in other applications, we can always think about emergency rescue, or we can transport patients to the hospital, or we can do a tourism, you know, fly from one island to the other," EHang co-founder Derrick Xiong said.

EHang said the final commercial product will fly into the market possibly within the year.

Reuters