Would you get in a one-man quadcopter air taxi?
It is also said to be capable of carrying a 120kg payload.
Well, forget about me then.
A Chinese company reckons it’s going to test fly a personal drone air taxi in the UK - letting any old bod take to the skies after bonking two buttons in an app. Ehang’s 184 drone is on display at the Defence and Security Exhibition International show in London, as the company’s UK distributors pitch for potential business …
Actually, scratch that - I can still just make it if I fly in the buff. Would that be legal in London?
You could always claim it is a rather unusual pitot tube :)
> "My wife and I could go together..."
There's an old Damaskas song about Subaru cars that fits this situation very snugly...*
* Subaru's in those days were tiny indeed.
Why is that? Serious question, I have no clue about parachuting. But this thing claims an altitude of up to 10000ft, and Google says you can typically deploy a parachute down to 2000 feet, or even 700 feet for a reserve chute. So to the non-expert at least, it looks like there's parachute potential from an altitude standpoint. Presumably you'd have some sort of break-glass-to-access emergency button that would stop the rotors if you wanted to bail out, so you wouldn't get diced. As long as you have the altitude, it seems like it could work.
I used to fly a microlight with a whole aircraft recovery system, which is basically a parachute that is deployed by a rocket when you pull the big red handle. These systems are light enough that there's no real issue with fitting one to a man carrying drone. The rocket deployment means that they can be activated at relatively low level, with recorded 'saves' from as low as 30 metres. Presumably on a semi- autonomous drone you would remove the human 'oh s**t, what should i do?' reaction time. The computer would realise safe flight was no longer an option and fire the chute. The chutes have steel bridles to minimise the 'chopped' by prop issue, but again, fairly simple to automate the 'cut power when chute fires' option.
So actually, you could probably make a fairly safe one man drone, although there would always be a bit of vulnerability at landing and takeoff. You could presumably design a nice honeycomb impact structure or add airbags to soften the crunch. It wouldn't be airline safe, but then not many things are..Maybe not even car safe, but removing the human from the loop you ought to get to microlight levels of safety, which are fairly acceptable to quite a few members of the human race.
'Anyway, how would you get out of a doomed drone without being blended by the rotors?
Oh I meant a parachute for the whole thing, like the Cirrus SR20 light aircraft has. Actually that might make it useful for dropping stores out the back of a C-130, maybe they should just go for that line...
The idea is that you jump first and fall faster than the 'copter, then deploy the parachute when you're a safe distance. OTOH if you want an ejector seat with parachute, they can make the rotors eject before you do (they fly off at a tangent and slice into the ground or whoever is standing in the way).
I were flying at 10,000ft and the LiPos started smoking, I'd choose a parachute and jump, then be a he-hang.
Let me tell you a story of a man named Charlie:
Every day his wife goes to Kendall Square with a potato cannon and fires a sandwich straight up in the air so Charlie can catch it as the drone he is condemned to ride for eternity passes overhead. Moral of the story: Don't use Paypal because they'll randomly lock your account mid-flight and then you can't pay the landing fee.
I remember when I was a kid being scared out my wits by a Spanish film about a telephone box that lured people in and wouldn't let them go...
It could easily be updated to taxi drones!
"Will it let me out where I want to be or at the "nearest convenient location", several kilometers away?"
Like "London Oxford" Airport, in Kidlington, about 100km away from London, and a similar distance away from Birmingham and Bristol. Also 15km outside Oxford.
Exactly! And if there's an app, and this becomes an airborne Uber, then this is potentially a means to cleanse us of urban hipsters. I don't think they count as any particular ethnicity, so it wouldn't be a problem with international courts. And with ever more clogged roads, but more driver assistance technologies, the fire brigade will need something to do:
"Special Service call, Old Kent Road near junction with Mandela Way. Another urban hipster + drone scrape up and hose down. Southwark council say to put the meat in an orange sack at the kerbside, and it'll be collected overnight".
Probably to leave a gap between the rotors for mounting and dismounting. You need 8 rotors to have a modicum of engine out capability (6 rotors allows semi controlled flight without yaw authority for a "one out", 8 rotors allows full albeit reduced control in a "one out" and depending on which engines possibly limited controllability in a 2 out scenario)
"if it's cheap enough and is allowed to land anywhere this would be an amazing way to get around traffic."
Can't comment on the cost but you're not allowed to land a helicopter "anywhere" because of the risk to the general public of getting landed on and/or diced by the rotors.
I can't see a single good reason to allow an air vehicle like this to be operated differently to a helicopter. i.e. you'll need a piece of privately owned land with controlled access to ensure you don't kill anyone with your toy, or you can take it to an airport/airfield like everyone else.
I saw half of a documentary about the US jetpack prototypes they were playing with in the late 50s / early 60s. Firstly with rockets, then they built a little jet.
Obviously they had very limited fuel. As if you put too much weight in, it was impossible to stand up.
So as a stunt, they decided to fly across Niagra Falls. But, running out of fuel halfway across is bad. So this guy worked out a brilliant wheeze to give him more time. He'd step off the cliff at the same time he turned his motors on.
So I've seen the footage of him confidently stepping out, sinking ten feet, then hovering away happily.
Of course, there isn't any footage of him stepping out confidently, then the thing failing to start up, and him plummeting to his death. He was either awfully confident in the machinery, or insanely brave.
After many taxi journeys is several countries I would definitely prefer this to a local "driving licence through the post" driver.
I was genuinely told that as long as you can see the back wheels you have enough stopping distance. And most of the time you couldn't see the back wheels, all at around 60MPH.
It won't be fine after a few years. Because it only generates lift through having a working engine. Helicopters can autorotate, and on loss of power get limited lift from their rotors on the way down - this will just plummet. Planes have wings.
Now admittedly there aren't too many people who've successfully done a Chesley Sullenberger, and put their engine-less plane down successfully in the middle of a city. But at least if you can glide, you get to decide whether to crash in the park, rather than the housing estate. Often you can do better than that.
Helicopters are very restriced in their operations by the way. Because they are a lot more dangerous than planes, or most other forms of transport. And that's why they're quite rarely used. There's only one place you're allowed to land them in London (which is Battersea) and you're only allowed to fly them over the Thames - because of how relatively frequently they crash.
This is before we've even mentioned the madness of automatic pilot use in airspace that is designated see and avoid, and doesn't have air traffic control or flight corridors.
It's a silly idea, even if they had technology that wasn't barely tested and hideously dangerous.
Absitively! Posolutely! I've got a wingsuit, a GoCam helmet and Playlist of "Flight of the Valkyries", "Danger Zone" and "Saints Row Theme" ready to rock. I've been briefed on how to safely escape and clear the vehicle before deceleration. Just give me an f'ing pretense ... I mean excuse. It's time to make some magic!
Does it have a parachute plus a backup parachute and an emergency mechanical override system so one could deploy it in case the automatic systems fail or if there's a Carrington Event level coronal mass ejection?
If you could escape quickly wearing a parachute, maybe I'd consider it, given there is enough altitude for the parachute to function and some sort of springboard/compressed gas powered launchpad so one could avoid being sliced to confetti by the rotors.