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Passenger drones are both innovative and privacy compromising at the same time. At Future Hub™, we examine the impacts and opportunities of this fast moving trend to bring you closer towards becoming Future Ready™.

Amazon was the first to talk about delivery drones but we have a new disruptor in market called the ‘Ehang 184’, which is poised to be the world’s first autonomous people delivery drone. Thats right, the Ehang 184 will transport passengers autonomously with the push of a single button. The company, is currently developing a sophisticated system whereby the passenger will set their location by pushing a destination on Google Maps, kinda of like setting a location on a sat nav. The take off system is simple, with just a take-off and land button.


Image source: Ehang184


Smart Flight Automation: Simple and advanced, one simple click to take off and land.


Image source: Ehang184

Powered by 4 arms and 8 propeller blades, the Ehang 184 currently has the ability to transport passengers for a period of 23 minutes in a single flight. On 8th of June, 2016, Ehang 184 was given clearance by the FAA to begin testing in Nevada. To help the company through testing and regulatory approval for the drone, Ehang have teamed up with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (Goed). Whilst this technology is still in major development and we are yet to actually see it fly, we cannot help but think how this will disrupt our future world. Lets talk a micros and macro flight through the impacts and opportunities of this trend, and how this will change our future.



No doubt Passenger drones will totally disrupt our world of transport. We have longed dreamed about the idea of flying cars, but what does this mean for the current way in which we travel if passenger drones are given the all clear. If you think UBER was revolutionary, the idea of passenger drones will transform the taxi industry, Uber (current evaluation of  64 Billion US dollars), public transport across the board and much more. It will mean the destruction of jobs across every sector related to moving people on the ground. From public to private, even luxury to everyday transport, the Ehang 184 will transform every mode of transport.

Another major sector to be affected will be couriering services. The same-day delivery war is on and big companies such as Amazon, Uber (Uber Rush), Alibaba and FedEx will need to adjust their business strategies at the potential of this new technology.  Imagine the effect of drone delivery services as a permanent fixture to our airways. It means, less wear on current infrastructure such as roads but it also means the elimination of the ‘courier job’. This will affect major cities such as New York, Chicago, Hong Kong and London, whereby couriering services play a major part of the day to day flow of the city.

New technologies mean new infrastructural requirements. The introduction of new activity within our airspace will require new landing spots within a metro environment, new traffic systems and rules to be created, new data connectivity. We must treat this as a hybrid between traffic on the road and air traffic control systems.

The idea of a lack of privacy comes into play for many. Autonomous drones leaves it open for digital systems to be hacked into and one such outcome is the idea of ‘drone crime’. It means that users can go places they have never been able to in the past with a simple fly over. Private residences, corporate buildings and even government places are all potentially at risk with this new technology. New rules will need to be created to define what we call as ‘no drone fly zones’.

Drone chaos, we are not used to a world that moves above buildings, so the idea of things moving above our heads will take a bit of time for people to adjust towards, and feel safe.

Economically, autonomous passenger drones will unravel many industries across every market including US and Canada, Middle East, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Central Europe. The global smart transport market is sized at 1.34 billion US dollars according to PWC with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 19.5 percent. Industries apart from transport are services, energy, infrastructure, security, ambulance services, future smart cities, the internet of things (IoT), environmental protection and more.


Image source: digitalhint.net



Autonomous passenger drones are the future of transport. Still in its early stages, the Ehang 184 is a vision into how we have always wanted to travel. Being able to view the world from above is a change within itself. Autonomous passenger drones will create a totally different way to get to your destination. It will become the safest way to travel, you would not have to worry about being stuck in traffic due to ‘variable height travel’. Fuel is just a charge station away.

Drone charge parking zones can become beautiful spaces of entertainment, kinda like a new version of the traditional American drive throughs. Full retail offering, your shopping can be automatically dropped inside your drone ready for you to head home. Autonomous passenger drones opens up the opportunity to create and reshape many industries, supermarket delivery being one of them. Basically, any service that requires delivery will be affected.

Couriering services for businesses. Small businesses in particular will prosper the most as they can drill down the cost of couriering services and control the hours of delivery. No longer will businesses be bound by the 6pm deadline for regular services, it means the bulk of transport can be done throughout the night.

Zero emissions is one of the major benefits of autonomous drones. Powered by re-chargeable batteries, major cities such as Beijing who suffer from toxic pollution levels will be transformed overnight due to a lack of congestion, emissions and increased travel times.

Entertainment Sports will be revolutionised. Think about Formula One racing, Rally driving or even the Dakar Rally… now think about these sports with high powered passenger drones. Drones open up the realm of new heights in adrenalin. One of the major downfalls would be accidents in this manner, therefore cockpit parachuting or floatation solutions would need to be invented.

Increased safety in travel works better using this technology because as it is less reliant on decisions made by people and rather that of digital systems. Now, digital systems do fail but they don’t suffer fatigue and have the ability to adjust to changing traffic conditions.

Reduction in cost of ambulance services as the cost to run passenger drones are not as expensive as those to run helicopters. Autonomous passenger drones can be positioned in remote places and be summoned by patients themselves.

Rebooting the Design industry. New technology is loved no more than by the creative class. They live for new opportunities to accelerate their creativity and the Ehang 184 breaks new ground for designers to think about a totally new eco-system of service for passenger drones. From the drones itself, to innovative landing pads, to experiential fly through spaces, design will bring new solutions for this technology.

Big Connected Data will contribute to insights and new discoveries in information on how people are using this new technology. Travel patterns, times of usability, unchartered locations will tell us how to improve on services and support.

Drone Sharing Economy is the idea of sending your drone to service businesses and people while its not in use by owners. So while people are at work, the drones can joint a grid of couriering and transport services. Much like how Uber currently works, autonomous drones can be picked up or summoned on command. Is this the future of Uber or the new sharing economy?


Image source: gelmi.com.br


SHOP NOW – Future Hub™ Smart Cities Trend Report 2016.