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Tansportation Drone Flight Technology

Human moving autonomous Quad Copter Ehang 104
Imagine flying in all electric autonomous safety focused quad-copters for short hop commutes that elevate you above the tragedy of traffic congestion! 

Ehang is a Chinese drone company working on commercializing a totally safe passenger quad copter drone with autopilot, machine vision & A.I. capable of avoiding electric utility wires and other low visiability obstacles that could tangle the machine with infrastructure! Safety is the core ideology in the design, the man behind this machine having lost his best friend and his mentor to helicopter and airplane accidents respectively. 

The timeline is unsure, but there is a big talented team of hard working engineers driven to bring this machine to the global market place. I like to think of it like a hybrid between an electric quad copter drone, a bicycle and a Tesla Model 3. Not exactly something you can buy yet, but something that you will be able to buy in the future ^^ Going beyond roads with new electric helicopter technology based on quad copter AI stability for absolute safety. 

1 person for 10mi in ~25 min of flight per charge, the first version is primarily aimed at proving the new platform where the passenger has only to input in the destination via a touchscreen; The machine does the takeoff, adaptive routing, flight and autonomous landing. Huazhi Hu is the CEO of Ehang, his lifetime goal to produce a safe energy efficient personal flight transportation solution that will making flying easier, safer and more convenient! 

Ehang 184 Development Image from Video 

17 years of RC experiences 

The late Ken Schwarz told me about his great uncle Ted who started building RC aircraft in 1954 as a hobby that eventually turned into a government career. Inspired by the story I started building super light indoor electric RC aircraft known as Ultralights that were powered by tiny 1/3AAAx3 NiCD battery packs. Sadly I was into B&W film cameras for "Art" at this time and never thought to photograph any of my early RC aircraft that were like the model in example image below.

Ultralight Electric Indoor RC Aircraft Example 
Next I build a Zagi wing with an 8.4v AA NiCD pack that was fast, but it was quickly destroyed in a high speed accident. I was at a park and had the electric wing flying several hundred feet up and attempted a high speed swoop maneuver where I accelerated the wing almost tangentially downward towards the ground until it achieve maximum speed. 

My 1999 Antique XF421 JR radio controller :) 
I then tried to issue a remote command to pull up so that the wing would make a U shape with the bottom of the U near the ground. I misjudged the rate at which the wing could correct its pitch and it hit the ground at about a 45 deg angle going about 70mph, ripping the wing, battery pack, RXTX module and servos all bent or broken. It was similar to the one in the following image example. 

A Zagi Electric RC wing example 

Undetermined I started work on an A10 Warthog. That ended on its madden flight some 4 months later when I was at a large park in Redmond that is popular with RC enthusiast. The crash was precipitated by a remote frequency overlap problem between my remote and the remote of an old man who had shown up when my A10 was flying. He turned on his remote when my A10 was about 100 ft up, the crossed signal from his remote caused the A10 to nose drive. I attempted to give input controls to counter the effect in a mad scramble to keep it from crashing, sadly this radio mixup got worse and caused it to spiral into the ground so fast that it shattered everything. I harvested the radio module and servos and vowed to abstain from RC aircraft. 

My 2000 Traxxas 4WD electric RC car
HD judder video from a Pentax W90 mounted to the 2000 Traxxas on Youtube

In the year 2000 I got a really cool Traxxas remote control car and started playing with it for fun. I have this RC car in working order today :) It is a 4WD 7.2v Sub C NiCd racing RC car that tops out at about 50mph with the stock motor and 70mph with the twister performance motor! It was this little machine that proved to me that electric could be better than Nitro (gas) power. I did see the one major flaw, limited single charge range, and dismissed the ideas of building a passenger vehicle using NiCD technology. Apparently I was not alone (Who Killed the Electric Car). While I have tried NiMH cells, they are fragile by comparison to NiCD, never want to be fully charged, never like being fully discharged, and while NiMH holds more energy than NiCD, its not as abuse tolerant in high pulse current applications. Lithium Ion was even more fragile than NiMH until Panasonic developed the NCR/NCA technology that is now being used in tens of thousands of fully electric Tesla vehicles. Check out the video above from a digital camera mounted on top of this RC car! 

Aarons AR Drone on Youtube 

In 2010 I got the first version of the A.R. Drone and had fun with that for a few years. At the time we lived in a WiFi pollution tiny apartment, and the A.R. Drone was unusable. Outside the wifi connection was too weak to reliably connect and I almost lost it completely because of this issue on fateful evening. Meg ended up selling the A.R. Drone to a pawn shop in 2014 for me :) Thanks Meg! 
My next RC aircraft was a tiny S107 mini electric helicopter. I got more total flights out of this little machine than any other, but like all the machines that came before it, it too died in an accident! Both of these RC flying toys had the same problems as my RC car, limited single charge range or flight endurance. We are talking about 5-15min from fully charged to completely discharged.

Jaeson's Drone on Youtube 

In 2015 my closest friend Jaeson recently started building FPV quad drones as a hobby. For about 5 months he encouraged me to get a drone, comparing my old A.R. Drone experiences to a "Kite with a String". Deterred by a lack of income and the high price of these advanced drone platforms ($2-6K) I abstained from getting yet another RC aircraft until yesterday. 

Syma X5C image from Amazon
While shopping on Amazon I found the Syma X5C and ordered one, along with a bank charger, spare batteries and spare blades, all for about $60 ^^ I am between jobs at the moment, so that was actually expensive for me as a non essential purchase. After talking it over with Meg, I decided to sell my minty condition Galaxy Note 2 (Verizon) to Amazon for $54 to offset my purchase. While post purchase researching drone Tech I found the Ehang 184 about which this posting was inspired. 

1 comment:

  1. I love the way you write and share your niche! Very interesting and different! Keep it coming!