Would you get in a one-man quadcopter air taxi?

This Chinese firm is touting plastic ones


DSEI 2017 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 from military, police and security forces from around the world.

The vehicle features one seat, eight motors, four propellers and a claimed maximum operating altitude of 10,000 feet. It is also said to be capable of carrying a 120kg payload.

Potential uses touted by the UK distributors include ferrying disaster relief supplies into an affected area, ferrying people into and out of those areas, and potentially strapping weapons to it and turning the faintly ridiculous craft into a military item.

While staff on the stand did disclose that some passers-by at the show had questioned the level of protection available in case of a crash (the Ehang 184 is made from plastic and carbon fibre), they emphasised that the air taxi has already undergone flight testing in China. A UK test flight is said to be scheduled for early 2018.

The control philosophy, as explained on the stand, is straightforward. For taxi purposes it will work like Uber: you select your pickup point and your arrival point on an app, get into the drone when it arrives, and trust its flying skills. A network operations centre will monitor these aircraft in case of trouble, we were told.

Semi automated control options will also be available, The Reg was informed, allowing some limited manoeuvring in flight. This was illustrated on the stand by a joystick and throttle that looked remarkably similar to these items advertised on eBay.

Your correspondent owns a set of these (hey, they were cheap) and wasn’t impressed with the precision of the joystick or its ability to hold a calibrated zero. Presumably the items on the stand were illustrative, rather than the final ones selected for passenger use. ®

Similar topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022