The world's first passenger drone capable of autonomously carrying a person in the air for 23 minutes has been given clearance for testing in Nevada. Chinese firm Ehang, which unveiled the electric Ehang 184 passenger drone at CES in Las Vegas in January, has partnered with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the Governor's Office of Economic Development (Goed) to put the drone through testing and regulatory approval. Tom Wilczek, Goed's aerospace and defence specialist said: "The State of Nevada, through NIAS, will help guide Ehang through the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) regulatory process with the ultimate goal of achieving safe flight." The founder and chief executive of Ehang, Huazhi Hu, said the move would lay the foundation for the 184's commercialisation and kickstart the autonomous aerial transportation industry. Ehang hopes to begin testing later this year and will have to prove airworthiness to the FAA, with guidance from NIAS, before being able to operate in a wider capacity.
Cybersecurity was the virtual elephant in the showroom at this month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Attendees of the annual tech trade show, organized by the Consumer Technology Association, relished the opportunity to experience a future filled with delivery drones, autonomous vehicles, virtual and augmented reality and a plethora of "Internet of things" devices, including fridges, wearables, televisions, routers, speakers, washing machines and even robot home assistants. Given the proliferation of connected devices--already, there are estimated to be at least 6.4 billion--there remains the critical question of how to ensure their security. The cybersecurity challenge posed by the internet of things is unique. The scale of connected devices magnifies the consequences of insecurity.
It's not exactly autonomous, but it works. Nissan believes the fastest way to get driverless cars on the road is to give them remote human support – and it's using NASA technology to do it. Nissan demonstrated its Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) platform at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, which incorporates a degree of teleoperation into the autonomous car system. Although vehicles will be able to drive themselves most of the time, human "mobility managers" can remotely take control in unexpected situations. "Autonomy systems are not simple, it is a very hard problem," says Maarten Sierhuis, director of Nissan's Research Center in Sunnyvale, California.
The whole "fear of SkyNet" trope is a bit moot at this point, seeing as how robots have already infiltrated our roads, skies and cafeteria-style eateries. You can already see it happening with Lyft adding 30 self-driving vehicles to its Las Vegas fleet, Sphero debuting yet another domestic robopanion, and gangs leveraging drone swarms to blindside the FBI. Numbers, because how else are we going to learn to speak the binary language of our future overlords? Turns out, they worked so well that the company is expanding the pilot program to more than two dozen autonomous vehicles. The opt-in program still only delivers passengers between high-demand locations but at least you won't have to worry about making small talk with the driver.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been talking about the commercial use of drones for quite some time now. However, in a recent interview, CEO Jeff Bezos assured artificial intelligence (AI) is the next big thing. Nonetheless, Chinese firm Ehang might disagree with this idea; in fact, the company is betting on drone taxis as the next attention-grabbing innovation in a move that could remind readers of Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG)'s autonomous car initiative or Zee.Aero's flying car. Back in January, Ehang, a cameras and drones maker, presented its electric passenger drone, the Ehang 184. Now, the Chinese corporation has partnered with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the Governor's Office of Economic Development (Goed) to test the vehicle and, ultimately, get regulatory approval.