Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:04 am
Presumably you could operate them reasonably safely over some protected routes with pre-planned emergency landing spots - I believe I'm right in saying that Dubai doesn't have much in the way of GA. Scaling a system to operate over random point-to-point routes in New York would be a very different exercise.
I seem to recall from the original blurb that if all of the engines failed bar one, the aircraft would still be able to spiral to some kind of survivable landing. I can see how that might work, though it doesn't sound at all like a fun ride. With electrical systems, the motors are light and the batteries are heavy, so there's little weight penalty in oversizing your motors to be able to deal with single failures.
The 11 million price tag was for the Israeli drone, not the EHang. I imagine the Chinese ones will be cheaper - especially if they're ever mass produced in which case they could be cheaper than an electric car. But I'm guessing cost-effectiveness might be less important to the rulers of Dubai than the prestige of getting a world-first flying-taxi service. And great for sightseeing!
I don't know how safe the EHang drones will be, but ultimately regulation will be the only thing that stands in the way of similar vehicles. I see no reason they shouldn't be much safer and more cost-effective than traditional helicopters.