EHang, the maker of the Ghost Drone just launched something at CES 2016 which might get a lot of folks excited. It’s basically a manned version of a traditional drone UAV called EHang 184 that provides means of personal transportation for a single passenger weighing not more than 100 kilograms or 220 pounds. So what is the Ehang 184 Aav Price and the ehang 184 range?
So first of all it’s not going to be the choice of NFL linemen because this maximum payload is for the passenger and personal belongings (luggage) combined. So a reasonable sized person would not be able to fly it having boots on :). The 184 was named for ‘one’ passenger, ‘eight’ propellers, and ‘four’ arms.
It’s a bit less ingenious than expected, I would personally like a less dull name for something that tends to be cool, for example the EHang Storm (copyright).
But let’s look at the announced characteristics of EHang 184 to assess what’s great and not so great about it. If anything, these types of drones are at least guaranteed to give you the fpv drone flight you’re looking for if you’re into that sort of thing, this is real live FPV!
Ehang 184 Rotors and Configuration
The EHang 184 is very similar to a multicopter UAV with an X8 configuration. If you are not sure what the different configurations mean, check out our post. Obviously, a manned multicopter that would be trusted to carry a passenger can not be a quadcopter because if only one motor would malfunction, the vehicle would fall to the ground like a brick. Guaranteed.
Actually, the X8 configuration is very dear to me as that is what we use in film making (feel free to check out Aircamfilm on FB). Imagine two quadcopters placed on top of each other. The X8 configuration features 8 rotors placed on four arms so it combines the maneuverability and agility of a quadcopter with the redundancy of an octocopter.
So the X8 configuration is a good choice but only if configured right because I could not find any information as to how the ESC-s are placed and how many separate controllers are used, what type they are, etc. EHang does say that there are “multiple backups” in place, but what they mean is unclear. The key here is to have separate boards of redundancy where both controllers and ESCs are backed up by fallback systems.
• “Multiple backups” in place
• 4 of the 8 rotors can stop and the vehicle could be able to land safely
• The 184 AAV is embedded with Ehangen fail safe system
• Auto-landing in case of trouble
• On-Star-like command center for fliers who need help
In that case, theoretically even 4 of the 8 rotors can stop and the vehicle could be able to land safely. EHang’s CEO mentioned in an interview that even if 6 motors would fail on 3 of the arms, the AAV (Autonomous Aerial Vehicles) would be able to “spiral to the ground” safely. Well, that sounds kind of scary, doubt that it would not result in anything anyone can survive. The manufacturer says that “the 184 AAV is embedded with Ehangen fail safe system” which suggests that they designed their own solution. Hope they release more information on that.
At the same time, unlike winged aircraft multirotors do not have a gliding capability and that could be a concern. I guess EHang could mount an automatically deploying parachute like a BRS chute to let the vehicle ascend safely. But if there is no such system involved and the passenger has to bail due to a malfunction, the 8 rotors being right next to the doors is a bit of a concern. I am no aircraft designer, but it would seem reasonable to place the rotor blades above the craft for added security. Placing the rotors up high would also prevent bystanders from getting injured while takeoff and landing.
Prop guards have been used on multirotors for quite some time. For example the Hoverbike is designed to have them. Why the EHang 184’s are not equipped with ducted motors is also an interesting question. It could be my ignorance and I am sure the guys over at EHang have considered that but would love to find out what the reason is.
EHang 184’s Power Supply
The 184 will have a 23 minute flight time roughly allowing a 10 mile flight as announced at CES this week. Whether that, combined with a 2-4 hour charging time is sufficient for day-to-day use depends on the owner’s personal situation, but to me it seems a little too limited. Information is scarce at this time as to the type of battery the 184 will use, but the flight time suggests Lithium Polymer and that could also be a concern to be honest.
LiPo batteries are great, most UAVs use them, but they have to be handled correctly and tend to lose voltage suddenly in certain conditions such as cold weather. How you store and deplete them is also an issue, check out our guide on LiPo battery care.
Being zero emission is all great, but EHang should consider other power supply options like hybrid power (just an idea) in order to make the EHang 184 a reasonable alternative to small helicopters.
EHang 184 Control Mechanism
Now this is where it gets really scary. Reports from the EHang booth at CES say that the “pilot” or better say passenger in the cockpit will not have a chance to fly the aircraft or take over controls from the autonomous system. Well, not being able to fly the aircraft is a problem because it takes away most of the fun I would imagine owners could have owning this puppy.
A system similar to waypoint flying in UAVs that simply takes you to a desired location by just clicking on it on Google Maps sounds great as an option. But only as an option. Not the only way to fly the aircraft. I know not all possible future users are multirotor fanatics but I am quite sure that the first people to get one of these would be them. And not letting them fly the damn thing seems like a really bad idea.
According to the announcement, in case of emergency situations the EHang 184 will be piloted by personnel sitting in command centers somewhere and help you land safely at the “nearest possible location”. Now forget the fact that they will have to build these centers first which is mostly a matter of funds and the availability of qualified pilots that can take on the responsibility of saving someone’s life from the distance.
The US already has problems with drone pilot shortages but I guess whereas those guys take lives, these pilots would be saving lives from the distance. A better headline for recruitment for sure. But what happens if there is no connectivity between the aircraft and the command station? I personally would be a bit scared to let an autonomous system combined with some command center in the distance take responsibility for my safety.
Sure, Google has self driving cars but doing that in 3 dimension in the air is a totally different ballgame. While Intel and other corporate giants are working on obstacle avoiding UAVs, this technology is simply not in the state where they could be trusted to fly manned aircraft in urban locations.
Ehang 184 Aav Price
Accorcing to reports, the 184 will cost between $200.000 – $300.000. Now a small but proven helicopter such as the Robinson R44 Raven I costs $355.000 brand new. It has a 350 mile range and can transport 3 passengers at 4000 feet. Ok, it is more expensive to operate probably, but the 184 must be a hell of a lot cheaper to manufacture too. So the pricing seems to be a little extreme.
The Legal Circumstances
There are countries that are more restrictive and others are less prohibitive in the use of UAVs. EHang claims that they have done more than 100 hours of test flights near their headquarters in Guangzhou, some even with a human passenger inside. At the same time, the countries with more developed regulation that is based on experience mostly require Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) for unmanned flights. But hold on for a moment.
Is the EHang 184 a manned or an unmanned aircraft? There is passenger inside. But that passenger can not control the aircraft so that does not add any level of safety during flight. Amazon also faced challenges from regulators when trying to launch delivery drones which are autonomous and unmanned. So is the EHang 184 an autonomous vehicle that transports things and that “thing” happens to be a passenger? Or is it a manned aircraft because in that case you will need a pilot’s license to fly it. But why, if you are not able to take control and fly it? Can’t wait to see first reactions from regulators around the world
Questions remain on this front but I am sure that if EHang is serious about hoping for a wide scale adoption and “revolutionizing personal transportation”, they will face a lot of scrutiny. They plan to get them certified by the authorities in China first, than the US, New Zealand and Europe. I personally don’t know of any country in the world where the EHang 184 would be legal to fly today but that is not the problem in case of revolutionary technology.
The EHang 184 at CES 2016. Photo Credit: AP Photo, John Locher.
Time to Market
According to reports, EHang plans to make AAVs or Autonomous Aerial Vehicles available later on this year. Well, this seems a bit too optimistic to my opinion as the prototype at CES was not demonstrated with any flight, even an unmanned one. Given the regulatory, pricing and other concerns, chances are that you will not be flying this thing very soon.
Our General Opinion on the EHang 184
EHang’s existing product on the market, the Ghost Drone is not a very memorable aircraft. The corresponding Facebook page has 46.000 fans and many users and testers reported that they are bit disillusioned with the Ghost. At the same time, the company raised $52 Million in a little over a year from prestigious investors. So they do have the financing and the aspiration to bring innovative products to the market but of course the industry would have more confidence in a company that has a proven track record of rock solid UAV products before launching something like this.
While lots of details remain unclear about the aircraft, we do know that it will have onboard WiFi and the reading light color will be “custom-made” according to the corporate website. Humor aside, if you watch the demonstration video, you will admire the honesty of showing how prototypes crashed and the determination the team has to make AAVs a reality.
The general concept is great and I personally would love to fly one of these things if they would only allow human control. I am sure that lots of things will change in the design concept, propulsion, power supply and other aspects of the aircraft. But in general, the determination of the design team and making this the legacy of some of their deceased team members (watch the video below) show a noble cause and let’s see if they will be able to revolutionize personal transport and succeed in making the first manned version of UAVs.
Types of Drones
At the lower end of the drone spectrum are toy drones, like the Parrot Mambo and the Hobbico Dromidia Kodo. These simple and inexpensive drones come in at about $100 and are more focused on fun than features. Their controls are straightforward and easy to learn, and they can be accessed through a smartphone app or included remote control.
The flight times of beginner drones and drones for kids are also more limited – generally less than 10 minutes, or even fewer than five for the very cheap models. Designed to perform some tricks, like midair flips, spare parts are available at fairly low prices if anything goes awry. Some small drones also come with video cameras, though the quality captured tends to be poor. But don’t count them out too soon – getting a cheap drone is a fantastic way to learn to fly before upgrading to a more expensive model. They also won’t cost a fortune to fix or replace in the event of a crash.
Drones with cameras – like the DJI Mavic Mini, the Parrot Bebop 2, and the GDU Byrd – are specifically designed to capture images, and range in price from $500 to $1,500. Built to provide a steady platform for the lens, which can either be an add-on or built-in, these sophisticated flying machines are more focused on recording high-quality video and still images than performing midair tricks. Because the equipment needed makes them larger and heavier, video drones need to be registered with the FAA.
Video drones often come with gimbals, which is a system designed to pan and tilt the camera – and cushion it from the motors’ vibrations – to cancel out the drone’s motion and keep the lens steady. Gimbals can either come as an electronic system built into the camera, as seen in the Parrot Bebop 2, or as a physical system made of motors and gears, like in the Mavic Air. Either way, the gimbals allow users to direct the camera at whatever angle they like, to capture beautiful pans like those seen in nature documentaries.
Bigger drones need bigger batteries, which often translates to longer flight times. A fully charged battery typically lasts a video drone around 20 minutes, and they can usually be swapped for spares to extend the session. Like toy drones, video drones are also built to be repaired, and replacement parts are generally easily available. Parts are relatively inexpensive as well, with Mavic Air’s replacement rotor blades running about $20. The quality of video these drones capture can vary widely, from the Bebop 2’s decent but sometimes choppy HD video to the Mavic Air’s super-smooth panning shots. While the videos produced by cheaper models like the Bebop 2 will be good enough for most use cases, it’s worth investing in the more sophisticated DJI drones when quality’s the main focus.
From photographing special occasions to surveying construction sites, drones are being used for an ever-expanding range of purposes. In fact, dedicated drone film festivals have popped up in major cities like New York and Berlin to showcase the creative new ways amateur moviemakers are utilizing their flying machines. Not only that, but the more innovative drones – like the Mavic Air – have built-in autonomous flight tech to make journeys on their own. They can even use cameras to detect and avoid obstacles in the way of their flight path. These more advanced drones allow users to play with their device’s autonomy by letting them navigate a predefined course on their own via GPS. Autonomous flight does, however, come with some restrictions – these drones must be registered with the FAA and have to be kept in the pilot’s line of sight at all times. The pilot must also be able to take back control of the drone at any point.
With the rise of drones came the rise of drone-based competitions – and drone racing might just be the most exciting of all. Racing drones are on the smaller side and designed specifically to offer pilots speed and agility. Users see through their drone’s lens via first-person-view headsets, navigating around a course and trying to beat other fliers. Most racing drones are adapted by hand to shed unnecessary weight or increase motor power. Cheaper models, like the Aerix Black Talon 2.0, start at about $115. Ready-to-fly drones on the higher end of the spectrum, such as the Uvify Draco, can run up to $700.
Drones can be an incredibly fun and fruitful new hobby, but they must be flown responsibly. Even a small toy drone can hurt someone if hit by it, and fingers can get injured if caught in the rotor blades. To fight this, some drones have built-in shields to protect the rotors, but even these aren’t foolproof. It’s best to fly any kind of drone, big or small, with proper care and caution. Here’s five quick tips for drone safety:
- Know the drone. Before the first flight, take the time to read through the instruction manual and get familiar with the controls.
- Check the drone before flight, looking for any damage to the motors or rotors that could fail in the air.
- Never fly near people or animals.
- Fly with caution, particularly when first using a drone or taking a new one for a spin. Always be sure to land before the drone’s battery runs outs.
- Fly with care. Drones can be noisy, annoying and even scary to those near their flight path. If someone asks to stop flying, be reasonable and courteous.
To learn more about drone safety, the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) is a fantastic resource on all things drone. The AMA can help connect drone enthusiasts with others in the area to share both beginner’s flying techniques, and more advanced tips and tricks. Remote-control flying clubs often meet regularly to discuss and fly drones together. But remember that with great power comes great responsibility. Make sure to update all software and firmware before any takeoff, and read the drone’s manual thoroughly before use. For FAA registration requirements and further information on drone safety, check the FAA website. Additional local jurisdiction requirements may apply, so it’s important to stay informed on the latest drone regulations for the area.
Drones & The Law
Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) introduced registration requirements for anyone flying a drone weighing over 250g recreationally. Most drones that fall under the toy category will not have to be registered, while those built for video, racing and autonomous flight likely do. Drone registration can be done via the FAA website – and separate, more stringent requirements are applied to professional drone fliers.
Once registered, the registration number must be displayed on the drone. This can be as simple as a sticker or shipping label placed under the battery, along with the owner’s name and number in case of theft or loss. The FAA also defines restrictions on where drones can be flown. They can’t be flown higher than 400 feet, in restricted airspaces, or over emergency areas, like traffic accidents or wildfires. They’re also banned from flying through national parks and cannot be flown within 5 miles of an airport without informing the air traffic controllers. Federal, state, and local regulations can vary, so check with the organizations directly if unsure.
Drone Accessories & Add-ons
Additional hardware can be added to drones that have ample lift from their propellers and motors. Lift specs can be found via the drone manufacturer’s website. In general, drones built to support external cameras are usually equipped to carry an additional half pound or more of weight above that of the drone on its own. Added weight increases stress on the motors and can affect flight time and stability.
The most popular and useful drone accessory is undoubtedly the spare battery. Drone batteries can provide between 5 and 25 minutes of power in the air per charge but can take an hour or longer to recharge. Fortunately, most drone batteries can simply be replaced with a freshly charged one when the power levels get low. To get the most airtime out of each flying session, users should invest in several spares.
The next most useful accessories for drones are spare propellers and parts. Because occasional mishaps and less-than-perfect landings are an inevitable part of flying drones, they were designed to survive crashes. The exterior components are made from sturdy materials – such as polypropylene foam and carbon fiber – that protect the more sensitive parts, like the CPUs, motors and transmitters. The parts that break the most easily, like the propellers, are the cheapest and easiest to repair or replace. New drones often have extra propellers included, and additional spares are usually available for purchase separately as well. Remember that drones need different propellers to spin clockwise and counterclockwise for stability, so it’s wise to get both kinds of spare propellers.
Depending on use cases, other drone add-ons that may be of interest include LED bands, propeller guards and extra landing gear. For photography drones in particular, various lens filters can be added to alter saturation levels, reduce glare, and more. Getting a quality bag or case specifically designed to carry a drone is an important investment as well. Drone bundles can often be found with a number of accessories. Drone cases should have a foam interior built to fit the device and its accessories and protect them from damage during transit.
Here are some featured Drone products.
GPS Assisted Flight
2K FHD 90°Adjustable Camera
249g Ultralight + 30-min Max. Flight Time
4 km HD Video Transmission
250g can be easily put into your pocket.
4K 30P and 1080P 60P HD Video
Waypoint function choice the best flight-route.
Built-in 1080P HD camera
Things to Consider When Buying a Drone
There is a multitude of options on the market now, with each model excelling in something else. Hence, before you go ahead and buy your drone, decide what are the most important things to consider when buying one.
Drone to Learn Flying
When you just wanna try and see if it’s something for you, learn how to fly a drone and have some fun, it may be better to go for a cheap UAS. You can get one for as little as $30 and it will have all the functions you’ll need. It may lack in video quality, or it can get heavy, but you will be able to play with it without worrying as much about crashing. It’s a good idea to start with this and learn the ropes.
Here’s a list of best drones for under 200 dollars in 2020.
Drone for Hiking
You can capture some of the best videos of yourself and your friends, as well as the landscapes, when you go hiking with a quadcopter. The most important things to consider when you buy a drone for hiking are weight, flight time, camera resolution and camera stabilization. It’s also important to make sure it will fit into your drone backpack (yeah, that’s actually a thing now).
With this in mind, we created a list of the best drones for hiking in 2020.
Drone for Selfies
It’s no longer uncommon to see someone swapping a selfie stick for a selfie drone. From pocket drones that can take photos of you and your friends to machines that will follow your movement and react to voice commands/ hand gestures, there’s a whole genre of devices built to accommodate the need for us to capture each moment from another perspective.https://6a7216e4485e9de66bead7c4465a0d81.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
We created a list of best selfie drones in 2020, and there’s even one that doubles as your phone cover so it’s always with you.
Depending on how you want to use your drone, its weight is probably the most important factor to take into consideration. If you want to take it with you everywhere, heavy UAS will soon prove to be a burden. Lightweight, however, often lack the extra features and have shorter flight times. Hence it’s a trade off you’ll need to consider first.
Important! Many countries regulate the licensing and use of UAV based on their weight. Do consider your contry’s regulations before buying a drone. Many places around the world do not require licensing or registration to use drones under 250 grams.
Flight Time/ Batteries
How long you can fly your drone on each battery will determine how far you can go with it. When the first personal drones come out you had a minute or so to play with. Now there are drones that can fly for 30 minutes non-stop and then you can just swap a spare battery to continue.
Flight time of each battery charge is one of the most important things to check before making a purchase decision. Also, do not forget to see if the batteries can be easily replaced or even if the drone comes with spare ones.
Flight/ Control Range
How far you can fly without losing control can make a huge difference in the footage and fun you can get from your drone.
There are 3 main methods of communicating with your drone, which impact it’s control range:
You’ll need a controller to send and receive the radio waves to and from your drone. Depending on the size of the antenna, the range can extend up to 5 miles.
The maximum control range using Wi-Fi signals is about 650 yards (600 meters). It’s often much shorter so you’ll have to see the specs of each drone you consider. The good thing is that with some models you may not need a separate controller to fly your UAS.
It’s also possible, with some models, to define a flight path that your drone will then follow using Global Positioning System (GPS).
With the things mentioned above in mind, there is a trade off between flight range and total weight of the equipment you have to carry with you. On one hand, it would be best if we could use your smartphone to fly the drone, so that you don’t have to carry an additional controller, but on the other hand the range would suffer without it.
If you just want the drone for selfies, then lack of controller would be fantastic, but if you want to go far into the sea to capture whales, then you want to be in control at all times and from afar. Consider this before you choose your quadcopter.
Most people use drones for videos, so you should check if your new drone would capture the world in low resolution, Standard Definition (SD), 720P High Definition (HD), 1080P Full HD (FHD), or 4K. Each one is at least twice better than the one before and something to consider.
It’s also very important to check if the footage is recorded to an SD card in the drone, or sent to your smartphone before getting recorded there. If it’s not built-in, whenever you lose connection, you lose that part of the recording. Whereas, with the on-board SD card you’ll have the full footage at your disposal after retrieving your drone, even if it lost the connection with the controller.
Your drone, if it has any camera stabilization at all which you should check, will either stabilize the recording with software or mechanically.
The best for the job is a 3-axis gimbal. Thanks to which, your videos will be filmed with a steady, cinematic motion that compensates for the shakes and wind movements.
Alternatively, some models compensate for the shaky conditions with built-in software. Not as good as a gimbal but much better than nothing at all.
First Person View (FPV)
Check if it’s possible to see through First Person View directly from your drone while flying. While you can control the AUV by looking at it directly, it would be better to sometimes see for yourself if everything you want to record stays within the frame.
The importance of your drone’s speed becomes crucial when you need to fly in a strong wind. It may not be able to return back to you if you’re standing upwind, and there are places where it would not be possible to retrieve your drone by walking up to it (imagine shooting at sea).
If you just want to use your drone for fun, then speed is important as it’s just more exciting to fly it faster.