Drones are the most popular form of unmanned aerial vehicles. They are used for many different purposes. From carrying bombs to taking pictures, drones are a very useful machine. But can drones carry humans? Well, in this article, we will take a look at how drones are being used to help humans.
Drones seem to be all over the news lately and yet there are many questions surrounding them. One of the biggest questions is if they can carry humans. Here is a quick look at drones and why carrying a human might not be possible.
Can Drones Carry Humans?
A lot of people are finding different uses and applications for drones these days, but can drones carry humans? This seems like an obvious question that can be answered with a yes or no, but it’s actually very complex.
There are several factors to consider when determining whether or not drones can carry humans, and not all of them are technological issues. For example, there are legal factors to take into account as well as physical factors like the strength of the drone itself and how much weight it can lift.
Testing if drones can carry humans
Although Amazon is still testing its autonomous drone delivery service, other companies are further along. German startup Lilium Aviation conducted a successful test of its electric vertical take-off and landing jet in April 2017, while Google’s parent company Alphabet also tested its Project Wing delivery drone earlier that year.
For now, both of these services have only been tested with cargo loads but they could be ready to carry passengers soon—the Lilium jet has a max speed of 186 miles per hour and an estimated range of 186 miles (300 kilometers).
However, both projects were originally set for manned flights by 2018; we’ll see if that happens. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) will release new regulations for small unmanned aircraft systems around 2018–2020.
How are we going to make it happen?
The answer is yes and no. Yes, we can carry humans using drones; however, there are a lot of regulatory hurdles that will have to be overcome before someone could hop on an eHang 184 or Matternet M2 and be carried around by drone.
The FAA has been given authority by Congress to integrate UAVs into US airspace—the plan is called NextGen Air Transportation System (NextGen). This process, which would have ordinarily taken 10 years and cost $20 billion, was accelerated because of a mandate to integrate UAVs into airspace over populated areas.
Will it be worth it
Despite a lot of fuss in recent years, especially in relation to delivery drones, people are still a long way from being routinely carried by aircraft. In fact, you can count on one hand (or rather on one finger) all of these passenger-carrying flights conducted worldwide: five test flights by Uber, two test flights by a Chinese firm, and one test flight by Japan Airlines.
What is more common though is using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to transport equipment. And there’s good reason for that: Although it might sound exciting to strap yourself into an aluminum box with wings and have it propelled aloft like some kind of human drone, it turns out that airplanes are pretty good at carrying people. After all, they’ve been doing so safely for over 100 years.
How are they going to get us up there?
There are numerous ways to achieve vertical lift. One of which is via a tiltrotor, also known as a proprietor, aircraft. This type of aircraft uses its propellers not only for propulsion but also for generating lift when rotated downwards and forwards.
A tiltrotor is essentially half airplane and half helicopter: just like a helicopter, it has a small engine at its tail that rotates two counter-rotating rotors, but it has fixed wings (like an airplane) with one or more engines mounted on them so that it can fly horizontally like an airplane and use its rotor(s) for a vertical lift.
What kind of safety features will they have?
Part of what makes drones so much fun is that they can be flown over land or water. That’s also why it’s an issue: If a drone carrying a human loses power, hits an object, or just plummets straight down, there isn’t anything to stop that person from hitting the ground.
This is where companies are trying to find ways around those safety risks. Some have designed parachutes with special compartments in them that are designed to open up when certain actions occur.
Others have created entire flying vehicles with pilots and landing gear inside of them. The details matter here, but if you’re planning on letting one of these drones carry your loved ones—and if they crash while they’re doing it—you’d better hope those safety features work.
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