According to Back to the Future II, The Jetsons, and Blade Runner, we should all own a flying car by now.
But even though the far flung future of the 2010s is now behind us, we might finally be catching up to the future.
Now, it is partnering with Air X in Japan to begin commercialization.
Even though it might be fun to think about grabbing a joystick and charting your own path through the sky, EHang has instead made the process truly autonomous, to reassure customers of comfort, ease, and safety.
The two-seater EH216 flying car comes with flight paths pre-programmed in order to both maximize efficiency and minimize the chances of something going wrong.
All you have to do is choose your destination from a touch screen, buckle up, and you’re ready to go.
This might seem a little counter intuitive: after all, autonomous driving hasn’t even come to regular cars yet, so how could it work in the sky?
But EHang studied the statistics, and the vast majority of accidents involving aircraft are due to human error, so removing this factor leads to safer outcomes.
It’s no mistake that commercial airplanes have used autopilot for decades, after all.
A ground control team also keeps track of the AAVs to ensure safety.
The actual physical components and software also have multiple redundancies built into them, so in the event that there is a malfunction, the EH216 can still safely fly and land.
The EH216 is also an eVTOL, meaning that it is both fully electrically powered, and can take off and land vertically without the need for a runway.
EHang predicts that the EH216 – which has been extensively tested all over the world, including the US, Japan, and the UAE – will be used for passenger transport, sightseeing, and to get people to hospital during medical emergencies.
The past’s vision of the future is now.