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This proposed drone taxi service just took a big step toward becoming a reality

The awesome EHang 184 is a flying machine capable of carrying passengers that first hovered into view at CES 2016, impressing many with its absurdly simple method of operation (put simply, you don’t have to do anything).

The Chinese company behind the vehicle, which at first glance looks like a giant quadcopter, offered some exciting news about the project this week, revealing that Nevada’s powers-that-be have green-lighted flying tests for the machine. The hope is that one day the so-called “drone taxi” could become part of the state’s transportation system.

The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), a state nonprofit group sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, will help the Guangzhou-based firm test and develop the machine, the LV Review-Journal reported. The first trial flights are set to take place later this year.

Ehang 184
EHang 184 autonomous aerial vehicle

To fly the single-seat 184 drone requires no effort whatsoever. It’s simply a case of climbing inside and tapping a destination on the incorporated tablet. That’s right – there’s no joystick, buttons, or levers to worry about. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The 184, which gets its name from having one passenger, eight propellors, and four arms, stands about 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) tall and weighs around 440 pounds (200 kg). It can fly for almost 25 minutes and has an average cruising speed of 62 mph (100 kmh).

EHang CEO Hauzi Hu said earlier this year it’s been “a lifetime goal … to make flight faster, easier, and more convenient than ever.”

Hu believes his creation has a shot at making “a global impact across dozens of industries beyond personal travel,” adding, “The 184 is evocative of a future we’ve always dreamed of and is primed to alter the very fundamentals of the way we get around.”

Indicating just how serious the company is about getting an EHang 184 taxi service off the ground, the institute said it’s planning to design a test criteria in an effort to help the Chinese firm pass Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulatory hurdles.

“We will help them submit necessary test results and reports to the FAA,” the institute’s Mark Barker told the LV Review-Journal, adding, “It’s a big deal for EHang and it’s a big deal for NIAS and the state of Nevada because we will be helping them to test and validate their system.”

How do you like the idea of beating a jam on the Strip by hopping into one of these on your way to the next casino? Sound off in the comments below.

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Trevor Mogg
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