Ehang passenger drone makes successful human test flights

There's a reason why governments are wary of the explosion of drones, a.k.a. unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs. Regulation procedures, privacy concerns, and security issues are just the tip of the iceberg. Many drone companies, not just a few, envision drones as the future of transportation, combining flight with the self-driving cars that are already giving regulators a headache. Many might scoff at the out of this world idea that might seem only possible in science fiction. But Chinese drone maker Ehang has just proven that the future is almost here.

Ehang is no stranger to drone enthusiasts but at CES 2016 it made quite a big splash by revealing its plans to develop the passenger drones of tomorrow. It was just one of the many companies making such claims, so it wasn't surprising that many simply took a "wait and see" approach. Now they're seeing what two years and 1,000 test flights with human passengers have produced.

Ehang released a video boasting not just of the flying capabilities of the Ehang 184 but, more importantly, its ability to safely carry human passengers from one point to another. The video shows various tests under various flying conditions, including what is claimed to be its heaviest human payload. It even flew through a storm and China's notorious fogs (or smogs).

But while the video does prove, almost beyond doubt, that a passenger drone is indeed technically doable, there's still a lot more work to be done. Ehang's ultimate vision involves a drone that doesn't require any pilot to fly. Simply tap in your destination and press "Fly".

But the biggest hurdles won't be technical. If anything, this video should prove to governments and regulators that they better get their act together quickly. The autonomous car craze mostly caught them by surprise, causing them to scramble to reign in companies and startups before things got out of hand. Passenger drones are still a good few years away, so they really have no excuse this time not to come prepared.