Are you willing to travel by drone?
Are you willing to travel by drone? The EHang 184 autonomous aerial vehicle is unveiled at the EHang booth at CES International, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Las Vegas. The drone is large enough to fit a human passenger. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Are you willing to travel by drone?
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Chinese drone maker Ehang Inc. has unveiled what it calls the world's first drone capable of carrying a human passenger.
The company is based in Guangzhou, China.  It pulled the cloth off the Ehang 184 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  This was during the CES gadget show in early January. A company video showed it flying.  It looks like a small helicopter.  But it has four doubled propellers.  They spin parallel to the ground like other drones.
The electric-powered drone can be fully charged in two hours. It can carry up to 220 pounds.  It can fly for 23 minutes at sea level, according to Ehang. The cabin fits one person and a small backpack. The drone even has air conditioning and a reading light. With propellers folded up, it's designed to fit in a single parking spot.
After setting a flight plan, passengers only need to give two commands. Those are, "take off" and "land." Each is controlled by a single click on a Microsoft Surface tablet.
It is designed to fly about 1,000 to 1,650 feet off the ground. It has a maximum altitude of 11,500 feet.  Top speed is 63 miles per hour.
U.S. authorities are just starting to lay out guidelines for drone use. A human-passenger drone seems certain to face strict scrutiny.
Ehang co-founder and Chief Financial Officer Shang Hsiao said the company hopes to sell the device for $200,000 to $300,000 beginning this year.  But he acknowledged the device occupies a legal "gray area."  When or if it would be sold in the U.S. is a question.
"The whole world never had something like this before," he said.
A passenger would have no controls as a backup, Hsiao said. In the event of a problem, the company plans to have a remote control center.  It would take over the vehicle and ensure it lands safely, he said.
Chief Marketing Officer Derrick Xiong said the vehicle has been flown more than 100 times. It has flown at low altitudes.  Those flights have been in a forested area in Guangzhou.  The flights included several with a person inside.
One thing that makes quad-copters safer than helicopters is their numerous propellers, Xiong said. Even if three of the four arms have their six propellers disabled, the final arm's working propellers can ensure a rough landing by spiraling toward the ground, he said.
The company also makes smaller drones. It said in August it had raised $42 million in capital from various investors including GP Capital, GGV Capital, ZhenFund and others. That money is in addition to $10 million raised the previous year.

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Can these drones replace airplanes?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • chevisr-rom
    3/02/2016 - 03:00 p.m.


  • sareew-rom
    3/02/2016 - 03:00 p.m.

    I don't think the drone can be replaced. If it did get replaced it would take a while. Also a drone only holds one person and a bag. An airplane holds more then one person. That's why I don't think airplanes can be replaced.

  • Elizabeth-rom
    3/02/2016 - 03:04 p.m.

    I think drones can not replace air planes because a drone can only fit one person and a air plane can fit more and a air plane can fly more than 23 min.

  • williamp-rom
    3/02/2016 - 03:14 p.m.

    No they cant because drone's can only hold 1 person and airplanes can carry many people.And also it would be very dangerous to fly that high,plus u only have 23 minutes over water and u can fall right down.

  • isaiahs2-rom
    3/02/2016 - 03:14 p.m.

    No they can because they can only fly for 23 min. So no ( ?° ?? ?°)( ?° ?? ?°)( ?° ?? ?°)

  • amirr-rom
    3/02/2016 - 03:15 p.m.

    No these drones can't replace airplanes because they only have 23 mins. of flying time and if your going high above the drone might die out of battery and you might fall down and you might go to the hospital

  • nazarethd1-rom
    3/02/2016 - 03:15 p.m.

    It is to small and it can only fly up to 23 min over the sea way to short and it over the sea what am I to do what swim

  • daironb-rom
    3/02/2016 - 03:21 p.m.

    no because if i get in one in it crashes im gonna be dead and i have a toy drone and when i was fling it it went real hi and then it just drop on the ground. i went back to the place were i got it from and they said it will cost 63$ to repair it or get 63 dollars back so i do not think people should get in one becuse heilcopters are better and people have got in one in one a lot of times and nothing happens people if u look at my comment NEVER HAVE A TOY DRONE OR GET IN A REAL ONE (-_-)

  • angrycheeseburger-
    12/01/2016 - 11:06 a.m.

    I love the idea of being able to hover around in a drone instead of driving when I am older, but it could be dangerous. You can only hover at sea level for 23 minutes and you could be at a risk of crashing. But if they ever sell these they would be a lot of money, but I would get one.

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