On the heals of the FAA's requirement that US citizens register their drones comes a totally new kind of autonomous aircraft that will have regulatory heads spinning.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Chinese company EHang unveiled its 184, a crazy car-sized, autonomous aircraft that could throw a wrench into our definition of "drone."
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The 440-pound machine has four rotors and uses an app to take off, fly a route and land. There are no manual flight controls, so even if the passenger were a trained pilot, that training would be rendered useless.
How would one deal with the craft in an emergency situation? In a press release from the company, it says that "passengers can elect to halt flight and simply hover in the air with just one click." Hmmm. Okay. But let's say hovering doesn't work.
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What's cool is that an aircraft innovation like could potentially disrupt the friendly skies and the airlines that have merged into mega-monopolies so they can herd us like cattle into expensive, crappy seats. Aren't you just rubbing your hands together evil-villain-style with the mere idea of having a totally different flight option?
Think of it. A future where, using an Uber-like app, you plug in your current location and request a flight to a specific destination. An autonomous drone-like quadcopter shows up and whisks you away to your destination.
Did we mention the 184 all-electric? No emissions or pollution. Admittedly, that's actually a down side because the battery only last 23 minutes, which gets its passenger about 10 miles.
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And then there are those rascally FAA regulations, which don't even exist for an aircraft like this because an aircraft like this never existed before.
I can wait.