Thoughts on the EHang 184 human-size quad copter?

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I just noticed the Chinese rolled out a quad (actually octo, w/counter-rotating props) copter capable of carrying a passenger.

And the term here is "passenger", not "pilot", because beyond tapping waypoints on a map and pushing "Go", the person in the cockpit doesn't have much to do.

For now, I'm guessing this device is crippled by battery life (< 30 minute flights?)

-- J. Peterson, January 7, 2016


I think it shows what happens when true innovators arrive in a moribund industry. It is a lot easier for a drone company to scale up to human payload than it is for a traditional aerospace company to deliver the capabilities of a $1000 drone.

-- Philip Greenspun, January 11, 2016

This Hackaday post has more specifics:

Itメs an octocopter, powered by eight 106kW brushless motors. Flight time is about 23 minutes, with a range of about 10 miles. The empty weight of the aircraft is 200 kg (440 lbs), with a maximum payload of 100 kg (220 lbs). This puts the MTOW of the Ehang 184 at 660 lbs, far below the 1,320 lbs cutoff for light sport aircraft as defined by the FAA, but far more than the definition of an ultralight ヨ 254 lbs empty weight.

In any event, itメs a purely academic matter to consider how such a vehicle would be licensed by the FAA or any other civil aviation administration. Itメs already illegal to test in the US, authorities havenメt really caught up to the idea of fixed- wing aircraft powered by batteries, and the idea of a legal autonomous aircraft carrying a passenger is ludicrous.

Is the author's remark about "illegal to test in the US" correct?

-- J. Peterson, January 8, 2016