The Chinese company released new footage of the drone in several test flights.
Two years after its debut at CES, the Ehang 184 drone is proving that it’s more than just a cool stage prop.
On Monday, the Chinese company released new footage of the drone in several test flights that carried actual human passengers from one point to the next.
“Performing manned test flights enables us to demonstrate the safety and stability of our vehicles,” said Ehang’s CEO Hu Huazhi in a statement.
Although the Ehang 184 is called a drone, it’s essentially a mini helicopter that’s designed to fly a human passenger all on its own. The vehicle runs on four propellers and is completely electric. When it debuted in Jan. 2016, EHang said it was only capable of flying for about 25 minutes at a cruising speed of 60 miles per hour. It also could only carry one passenger, or at most 220 pounds of weight.
However, the new footage shows the Ehang capable of carrying two people or a total of 460 pounds. The company also managed to successfully fly the drone at a higher cruising speed at 80 miles per hour, and complete a “routed test flight” that covered 9 miles.
In addition the drone can successfully fly at night, in foggy conditions or even during a moderate typhoon.
Ehang was founded in 2014, and has already conducted over 1,000 flight tests of its self-flying vehicle. However, the company still isn’t saying when the drone will actually be available to customers. “This is a step-by-step process,” Ehang’s CEO said.
Some of the next goals include improving the passenger experience and adding an option for manual piloting over the drone. The company is also developing a two-seater vehicle that can carry 617 pounds.
Despite the progress, Ehang isn’t the only player in the airborne taxi space. Volocopter showed off its own self-flying vehicle at this year’s CES show, which has 18 rotors. Bell Helicopter is another company that is working with Uber to bring airborne taxis to life.