Who wants to ride in a drone taxi?

 

That's the question facing the makers of the Chinese robotic taxi tested last week in a Vienna stadium. Not yet licensed to fly in public, the EHang 216 was able to take off, but not to leave the stadium.

Reporters who were able to get up-close said its noise level was below that of conventional helicopters, but still loud. The company hopes to get the level down some more, but says it's not sure how accepting the public will be. "Our biggest challenge is not technology, it's not regulation, it's people's mentality," says EHang's chief marketing officer Derrick Xiong, referring to whether people are ready to fly without a pilot. 

Despite those worries, the company hopes to be licensed to fly soon, and says it has thousands of pre-orders, including numbers from tourism companies. Other possible users are companies with offshore drilling rigs to transport workers and managers, or agencies delivering organs for transplantation. The planned range of the vehicle is about 35 km.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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