December 29th, 2017 by Nicolas Zart
Nope, we will not stop writing about vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drones, because … well, because they are increasingly becoming an everyday fact of our lives. And they make such great Christmas presents, don’t they?
VTOL & Passenger Drones — All the (Media) Rage
VTOL drones are taking off everywhere. Well, let’s rephrase this. VTOL drones are taking off everywhere in the news. Now, that’s a better and more accurate rendition. Reading the specialized or even generic mainstream news, VTOL aircraft and drone-like systems are everywhere these days. Kids get VTOL drones for Christmas. Other grown-up kids fly them near airports risking the safety of airplane passengers. Super-yacht owners can buy them and hop over to their friends’ villas in the Mediterranean. A technology used by the military and slowly matured over decades is now finding its way into our homes and, of course, our wallets. There is a VTOL drone out there for you, even if you haven’t realized it yet.
Joking aside, the practicality of drones and other VTOL aircraft shouldn’t be overlooked. Drones are already put to good use. For example, Zipline flies fresh blood quickly to remote places in Africa. Reconnaissance is handled more and more using drones, even in outer space. People are thinking of using VTOL drones to help ambulances get to accidents more quickly.
And now, one company wants you to think of getting your first VTOL machine. We’re not talking about those quaint little gadgets your next-door neighbor’s kid flies around your home. We’re talking a real VTOL aircraft for carrying up to two people.
Ehang With Someone Else In The Air
This company, Ehang, makes little video-flying drones. And if you do video-flying drones, why not make bigger ones designed to carry human beings?
With this thought in mind, Ehang created its Ehang 184, which can fly you into the air. The company claims its Ehang 184 AAV, which is short for Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (another moniker to add to your jargon list), is “the safest, smartest, and eco-friendly low altitude autonomous aerial vehicle, aiming on providing medium-short distance communication and transportation solution.”
Designed to be redundant, as most VTOL vehicles are these days, the Ehang 184 is electric. The company tells us that should any malfunction happen to the 8 propellers, the aircraft has Ehang’s fail-safe system to rely on. In other words, the aircraft will immediately land to safety as soon as it finds a good spot to do so.
Sometimes things get lost in technical manuals. The Ehang 184 AAV tells us that it “flies in an inverted U shape.” We gather that means it goes up, then levels its flight, and finally lands by going down — and we’re happy to see that this VTOL drone does exactly that.
So, where can you use it? Ehang tells us you can use its Ehang 184 at “the nearest targets with pre-set Ehang Logo.” The Ehang then uses its landing camera to position itself automatically and accurately over the landing spot. And if security is a concern to you, as it should be, communication is encrypted and each AAV has its own independent key.
It’s A Brave New World Of Flying Objects, Drones, & VTOL Aircraft
Should you feel a certain amount of curiosity about the Ehang 184, as we did, we encourage you to follow the company on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Just be careful with those annoying YouTube autostart videos — that last link will blare out their videos.
There is always a point when the party gets out of bounds and out of control. As we witness more companies designing VTOL and drone-like aircraft, we’re bound to find strange things. Although we’re sure Ehang has put a lot of effort and engineering into its Ehang 184, we’d only hope it would brush up on its explanations if it wants to appeal to a wider audience.
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