Are We Closer To An Autonomous Taxi?

160108-ehang-drone-mn-0955_a27bf747bd3bbad7e762babbdfd79c99.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000Are you tired of what seems like the never-ending fight between the people we pay to drive us around cities? Well, a Chinese company called EHang is making an attempt to rid us of the human interaction we must face when we need a ride.

EHang’s new autonomous vehicle is called the 184, it weighs in at 440 pounds, and its estimated cost is between $300,000 and $400,000. The company says they’d like to have it on the market within the next three to four months.

There are a few roadblocks for EHang, though. They still need FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approval, air traffic control monitors and a way to make the 184 land safely. Also, the vehicles battery only lasts about 23 minutes, which would likely only take passengers about 16 kilometers.

Although EHang is known for making drones, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this larger “drone” will be successful, or make it to market at some point.

This often happens with companies that make promises about autonomous flying vehicles large enough to carry passengers. They build small prototypes, and when they are successful, they insist that the larger version big enough for transporting humans is just around the corner. But FAA approval, among other things, often gets in the way.

That means that if EHang can’t pull it off, we might have to wait a little longer for the dream of a self-flying taxi to become a reality. But after the decades of predictions about hovering vehicles in everything from cartoons to science books, what’s another two or three more years?

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