Chinese Passenger Drone EHANG184 Poses Military Challenge To India?

EHANG184, Chinese Autonomous Aerial Vehicle
Shailesh Kumar
New Delhi, 31 January 2016
January 2020: Time 2100 hrs. Location: Line of Actual Control. Altitude: 4267 meter. Temperature: minus 26 degree. Atmospheric condition: Chilly winds with occasional lightning. A five feet, four armed, eight rotors stealth drone is flying over frozen Indus river. A beam of light flashed from the drone crossing Indus light up the spot with pitch black in the periphery. It was a small village of mud houses numbering around twenty. People seem to have deserted the village owing to inclement weather. The village hardly had basic amenities typical of villages on Indian side of LAC. Drone hovers for a while in the air and prepares for Vertical landing. Within seconds it touched the ground facing mud houses. Gull- wing door opens and swiftly alights a short statured soldier in uniform, wielding a holster on his left side. Wearing night vision glasses, soldier holds a DSLR camera with advance lenses and powerful flash. He quickly moves and checks every house. Clicks pictures and within minutes comes back to his Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) which is already fitted with a camera pod recording video of its tracks. The drone soon zooms up in the black sky as it vertically takes off. This was the non-combat patrol of Chinese People’s Liberation Army in year 2020.

Ehang184: 1 Passenger, 8 Propellers, 4 Arms 
The scenario seems to be a bit fictional but its not a distant reality. India shares a disputed border with China and its Aksai Chin is under the control of China. There have been many instances in past when Chinese troops transgressed into India; and LAC is neither fully defined nor does it covers full Indian military presence. Meanwhile, China is on the verge of creating history by unveiling world's first passenger drone EHANG184 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV). All electric EHANG184 has military applications that can add to Indian worries given its border dispute with China. EHANG184 can not only transport PLA soldiers to the Indian border even in the inhospitable conditions but also can be used for reconnaissance and surveillance activities in low altitudes. With EHANG184, China can launch non combat man missions to patrol the Line of Actual Control even in most inclement weather. Chinese drone can easily transport soldiers directly to battlefields and also can evacuate a a lone special force operator in emergencies.  

EHANG184 Layout
EHANG184 does not need the boarding passenger to have a flying training or a pilot’s license. Chinese AAV is a fully automated Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with redundant fly-by-wire, networked with encrypted sensors. The high level of flight automation and redundant systems can be militarized and scaled to other systems. EHANG184 has developed flight control software that not only autonomously develops a flight plan and adjusts it according to data from its sensors, but the flight control system can also refuse to take off in certain conditions (like thunderstorms) as well as diagnose and remedy damage (like bird strikes), and includes emergency landing protocols. The flight duration of current version of EHANG184 is 23 minutes with a speed of 100 kilometers per hour and can carry a 100 Kg person or weight. The charging of battery takes two hours. It can fly in all terrain including in Rural and Urban crowded areas. The new Chinse drone in civilian domain can significantly change the way we travel these days giving us respite from traffic congestions.

EHANG184 Passenger Seat View with Navigation Pod
By now, only the U.S. Marines' has tested ‘K-Max’ robotic helicopter in Afghanistan to provide unmanned autonomous tactical delivery of supplies (and man) to rugged locations where it's too dangerous for manned helicopters, or where runways are unavailable. VTOL (Vertival Take offs/ landings) airlift capabilities would help to Chinese forces in providing logistics for counter-insurgency operations and peacekeeping while rendering third dimension maneuver capabilities to Chinese squads operating in urban environments. For the first time, Chinese UAV manufacturer Ehang has showcased EHANG184 at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas from 6-9 January. The concept vehicle featured a pod capable of seating 1 adult seated on top of an aerial aluminum alloy frame. The basic shape of the pod is reminiscent of a small helicopter but instead of a big rotor attached above it, the 184 AAV features 4 arms attached to the bottom of the vehicle, much like what you'd find on a drone. The ends of each arm are fitted with a pair of rotors powered by individual motors that stacked vertically. The 8 motors on the 184 AAV put out a sum total power of 142 hp or 106 kw. The arms themselves can be folded up when the vehicle is parked, thereby making it space efficient. The name EHANG184 defines the vehicle's basic attributes; 1 passenger, 8 rotors and 4 arms.

The company disclosed that EHANG184 AAV will also has a ‘fail-safe system’ that takes over in case of a major glitch or irregularity during flight. In addition, occupant can also control the vehicle to stop, land and hover. The entire vehicle weighs 200kg and is capable of supporting an additional weight of upto 120kgs with storage space. EHANG184 is fully networked and can be navigated with 12 in tablet with one click destination and take off procedures. The company has developed secured protocols for automated communication with the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) and the AAV has a permanent online 4G connection with its low-altitude command centre. EHANG believes that per piece cost of its AAV can significantly be reduced from 1.3 – 2 crores, if produced at a mass level. 
The Chinese Flying drone is welcomed by Aviation enthusiast across the world. But India hardly has any counter production moves nor does it has a strategy to deal with new military challenge.  

World’s other Flying Cars In Development:

AeroMobil 3.0
AeroMobil 3.0, The Flying Car Concept
AeroMobil is a beautiful flying car, beautifully integrated. AeroMobil transforms in seconds from an automobile to an airplane lending you freedom to move. As a car it fits into any standard parking space, uses regular gasoline, and can be used in road traffic just like any other car. As a plane it can use any airport in the world, but can also take off and land using any grass strip or paved surface just a few hundred meters long. However, to fly AeroMobil, one needs to have either the PPL or SPL with minimum of 40 hours of flight training.

The TF-X
Terrafugia, Flyig Car Concept
The TF-X is another realization of the dream of countless visions of the future of a flying car. The TF-X is still in the early stages of development, with a production date estimated at 8-12 years in the future. TF-X is designed to have a range of 500 miles with cruise speeds up to 200mph. TF-X will be capable of automatically avoiding other air traffic, bad weather, and restricted and tower-controlled airspace with backup full-vehicle parachute system which can be activated by the operator in an emergency if the operator believes the TF-X to be incapable of auto-landing.

‘K-Max’ robotic helicopter

K-Max- Cargo US Drone for Manned Unmanned Teams
The Kaman K-Max is a cargo carrying American drone helicopter that can fly autonomously to resupply Marine outposts in Afghanistan. Designed and currently under trial, K-Max aims to have ‘manned-unmanned teaming’, where the pilot of a manned aircraft, such as an Apache helicopter or F-35 fighter, controls multiple drones. This will change the role of military pilots from actively piloting vehicles to serve instead as Mission Commanders supervising highly intelligent autonomous systems.

Chinese Passenger Drone EHANG184 Poses Military Challenge To India? Chinese Passenger Drone EHANG184 Poses Military Challenge To India? Reviewed by Shailesh Kumar on 12:05:00 PM Rating: 5
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