Man-carrying drone coming up

The 200kg Ehang 184 can hold a maximum load of 100kg for a 23-minute flight at sea level at a speed of 100kmh. Due to its fully automated navigation, a flier needs only to tap "take off" and "land" on an accompanying tablet.
The 200kg Ehang 184 can hold a maximum load of 100kg for a 23-minute flight at sea level at a speed of 100kmh. Due to its fully automated navigation, a flier needs only to tap "take off" and "land" on an accompanying tablet.PHOTO: XINHUA

LAS VEGAS • Chinese company Ehang has unveiled a prototype of what is believed to be the world's first man-carrying drone, which it hopes to roll out commercially later this year.

Making its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, the Ehang 184 can hold a maximum load of 100kg for a 23-minute flight at sea level at a speed of 100kmh, Xinhua news agency reported.

To pilot the 200kg helicopter-like craft, which can seat only one person, the flier needs only to tap "take off" and "land" on an accompanying tablet, the company said.

"Due to the 184's fully automated navigation, made possible by Ehang's 24/7, real-time flight command centre, passengers have no need for a pilot's licence - they simply sit back and let the drone take over from there," the Guangzhou-based company said in a statement.

Although the company is still seeking government clearance for human flight by drone, Ehang co-founder and chief marketing officer Derrick Xiong told Xinhua he plans to sell the machine later this year at a price of US$200,000 (S$287,000) to US$300,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2016, with the headline 'Man-carrying drone coming up'. Print Edition | Subscribe