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

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 …

Anonymous Coward

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.

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Anonymous Coward

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

It is also said to be capable of carrying a 120kg payload.

Sadly, I was thinking the same thing.

Actually, scratch that - I can still just make it if I fly in the buff. Would that be legal in London?

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

I think I might be okay on this, only just, but the safety margin is practically nil...

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

I'd just about be able to make it under that flying with my 16-year-old son. I don't think I would do it, though. My elder son is currently studying to be a commercial pilot, so I think I'll wait to fly with him.

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Bronze badge

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

On a good day, providing I have used the toilet and not eaten breakfast yet...

On the up side I need the exercise so ought to walk anyway.

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

My wife and I could go together - if we were naked.

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Thumb Up

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

> "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.

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

"

... but the safety margin is practically nil...

"

The quoted maximum will almost certainly include a safety margin.

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

Yes, but any sustained shaking and gyrating of the payload mass could severely tax that margin.

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Holmes

Re: used the toilet and not eaten breakfast yet...

Way too much information.....

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Anonymous Coward

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

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 :)

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

fishman, My wife and I could go together - if we were naked.

And with a ceiling of 10000 ft you could join the "mile high" club...

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Flame

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

I might, but I sometimes waver on the edge of a deathwish, as long as it's spectacular and involves flames

"Flying Car" - queue Jetsons theme - "Meet George Jetson... Jane his wife..." etc.

icon because

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My wife and I could go together - if we were naked.

Welcome to the 1.893939 mile high club! Hope you're very flexible.

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Re the headline

I refer you to Betteridge.

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Does it have some sort of parachute in case of a total electrical failure?

If you want to ask them a tricky question ask if the rotor blades can alter in pitch to allow it to make an auto-rotative landing.

If they answer no to both those questions. Then no.

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I don't think you want to be parachuting out of a low-altitude quadcopter that's still in motion.

That's not even a Bond stunt, that's just suicide.

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Props are fixed pitch. So no auto rotation (and they're to small to work for autorotation anyway.)

The best you could hope for is a ballistic parachute system. But given the diminutive size and weight of this thing I doubt it's equipped with one.

So thats a HELL NO, from me.

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I expect no parachute on the grounds of weight limits but it is quite possible that the seat cover could be reused as a body bag. Anyway, how would you get out of a doomed drone without being blended by the rotors?

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Black Helicopters

I expect no safety systems at all, because China.

No, I would not get in one.

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'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...

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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.

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Anonymous Coward

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.

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RE: Parachute

Parachuting from a rotor-driven craft sounds scary, with or without a parachute.

"In the event of an engine failure, don your parachute and exit the craft. Chop-chop!"

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Black Helicopters

Re: Parachute

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.

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Re: Parachute

It's more likely that the parachute would be attached to the copter and not the passenger. There are general aviation aircraft (small planes) with emergency parachutes. One company tests their new designs at a drop zone a couple of miles from my house.

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With the 120Kg max payload, anyone with the balls to get in to one of these would need a second drone to carry them....

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Paris Hilton

...get into the drone when it arrives,...

Just out of curiosity, will it arrive in the middle of the street? At the sidewalk? At the nearest helipad or airport? Will it let me out where I want to be or at the "nearest convenient location", several kilometers away?

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Joke

Re: ...get into the drone when it arrives,...

It's won't let you out. Or land for that matter Unless you pay the additional disembarkation fee. Better pay before the batteries run out!

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Re: It won't let you out. Or land...

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.

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Re: ...get into the drone when it arrives,...

"nearest convenient location", several kilometers away?"

Depends, is it operated by Ryan?

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Re: ...get into the drone when it arrives,...

I wonder if you can adopt the 5th Element approach? Could be cool stepping out of 95th floor windows wearing nothing but masking tape.

Not that that would bring me down to 120kg...

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Re: It won't let you out. Or land...

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...

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065513

It could easily be updated to taxi drones!

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Re: It won't let you out. Or land...

Oh I remember that one, seem to remember it being rather good.

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Re: ...get into the drone when it arrives,...

"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.

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Re: It won't let you out. Or land...

as the drone he is condemned to ride for eternity passes overhead.

Heh. The original Flying Dutchman wasn't literally airborne.

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Re: ...masking tape

An option that may work better on Milla Jovovich than me.

An Elastoplast is bad enough- don't want to be ripping out all my body hair every time I get undressed!

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Anonymous Coward

"The communication is encrypted and each AAV has its independent key."

Something doesn't seem right with that statement.

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Darwin

I expect these things will be fairly pricey to buy or operate.

This will add to the data available as to whether wealth and intelligence are linked.

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Re: Darwin

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".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: urban hipsters

Maybe they could try using the tail rotor as a beard trimmer...

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Minor nitpick

That's 8 motors, and 8 props! (It's a coaxial octocopter meaning there's a tractor prop above anda pusher prop below each boom.)

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Re: Minor nitpick

Do they do that just to increase the noise levels?

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Re: Minor nitpick

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)

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Name...

I assume this air taxi will Ehang in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.

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Military use !?

With 120kg payload? A single AGM-114 ("Hellfire II") clocks in at about 50kg. Maybe you could fly dehydrated meals around in it, but it's never going to be a credible weapons platform with that capacity.

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Anonymous Coward

Are you feeling lucky,? Are you?

Hmm, i'm not entirely sure that staring down the wrong end of 2 Hellfire missiles is going to make my day.

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Trollface

Re: Are you feeling lucky,? Are you?

"We're here to evacuate you, but due to the payload limit we have to get rid of the two missiles first. Now stay still, this won't hurt at all!"

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As terrifying as it sounds, if it's cheap enough and is allowed to land anywhere this would be an amazing way to get around traffic. It can carry 18st 12lb too which is surprising - things like this can usually only lift particularly slim gerbils.

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Anonymous Coward

"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.

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