The Chinese drone maker Ehang, looking to distinguish itself from the crowd (and rival drone giant DJI), has a new product that brings autonomous driving tech and drones together. It is a single-seat, self-driving quadcopter called the Ehang 184. It looks like an oversized drone with a cockpit stuffed in the middle, a flying analog to the 1,000-horsepower autonomous concept beast that Faraday Future unveiled on Monday night.
Ehang’s main product is a drone called the Ghost, and it has a distribution deal with the American model plane company Hobbico to sell it in American hobby stories. In August, Ehang raised a $42 million Series B round led by the Chinese investment firm GP Capital; it raised a $10 million Series A led by GGV Capital back in 2014.
Realistically, you will probably never ride in a 184, nor will anyone you know. The launch video that Ehang gave the press tells kind of a sappy founder story about aeronautical safety, aging transportation infrastructure and environmental conservation. It also looks like the 184 was digitally stitched into some of the filming sequences, and it wasn’t clear from the press demo or the materials handed out whether people have really taken this thing for a spin.
But the 184 is where a couple different incredibly hot technologies converge, and it offers a very limited glimpse at some of the far-off transportation products that Google, Amazon, DJI and others are surely thinking about, if not working on.
Watch the video below,