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June 9, 2016

World’s first passenger drone cleared for Nevada testing

News: It can be directed to reach a destination with simple inputs.

By CBR Staff Writer

A drone capable of carrying a passenger in the air for 23 minutes has obtained clearance to conduct trials in Nevada.

The drone, which was unveiled at CES in Las Vegas in January, is the world’s first passenger drone. The electric passenger drone is developed by Chinese firm Ehang and is named the Ehang 184.

The Chinese firm has partnered with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (Goed) for testing of the drone and to gain regulatory approval.

Goed’s aerospace and defence specialist Tom Wilczek, said: "The State of Nevada, through NIAS, will help guide Ehang through the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) regulatory process with the ultimate goal of achieving safe flight."

Ehang founder and chief executive Huazhi Hu said that the testing of the drone would be the first step in commercialisation of passenger drones and spur the autonomous aerial transportation industry.

Ehang expects to start the testing of the drone later this year. By taking guidance from NIAS, the company plans to get an approval for the drone’s airworthiness from the FAA in order to be able to expand its capacity.

Nevada has been emerging as the pilot test ground for advance transport solutions over the past five years. It is one of the first states in the US to allow the testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads.

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Based in the Guangzhou province of southern China, Ehang already manufactures camera and hobbyist drones. Its passenger drone, which could be the first of its kind, is similar to Google’s self-driving car capable of carrying passengers on road autonomously, The Guardian reported

Ehang’s passenger drone can be directed to reach a destination by giving simple inputs, while the rest of the things like taking off and flying at altitudes will be managed by it automatically.

The drone can fly at altitudes up to 3.5km (11,500 feet) at up to 100kmph (63mph) for up to 23 minutes using eight propellers on four arms.

Wilczek said: "EHang’s selection of Nevada to test its people-carrying drone marks a thrilling addition to the innovative companies testing throughout our state to advance the commercial drone industry. I personally look forward to the day when drone taxis are part of Nevada’s transportation system."

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