According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the world’s first passenger-carrying drone is scheduled to begin testing later this year. In collaboration with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, EHang Inc., a Chinese-based company developing autonomous drones, is working to get the necessary approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which may ultimately help drive the state’s commercial drone industry.
Will this Help Reduce Traffic Accidents in Nevada?
Car accidents and other auto related injuries in Nevada are on the rise. In 2014, the number of traffic fatalities in Southern Nevada declined slightly, while traffic related deaths rose 7 percent statewide. According to one report, 73 people lost their lives in unsafe pedestrian crosswalks last year.
The Nevada Highway Patrol is currently targeting speeders, who are more likely to be in, or cause, an accident. However, the news of drone testing in both restricted and unrestricted airspace is perhaps a traffic solution few in Nevada would have expected.
“I personally look forward to the day when drone taxis are part of Nevada’s transportation system,” said Tom Wilczek, a representative at the Governor’s Economic Development Office (GEDO).
The GEDO is helping the Chinese company gain footing here in Nevada, particularly with regard to reporting testing to the FAA.
Unmanned Aerial System
The Ehang 184 is the first prototype to begin testing in Nevada, as well as the first of its kind in the United States. Its design is similar to a helicopter, with four separate turbines connected to the body, and designed for a single passenger.
EHang Inc. first made headlines back in 2014 when it raised an estimated $52 million in venture funding. With help from the GEDO, Nevada is advocating the state become the premier destination for the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) industry. In partnership with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), an education and research facility focused on UAS technology, EHang hopes to make a permanent home in Nevada, pending preliminary testing and approvals with the FAA.
What is Next?
On the one hand, it’s a worthy cause to take action against rising auto accidents in the state of Nevada; but on the other hand, autonomous drones are still far from ready to service human passengers in need of a lift.
The use of drones in general is still a bit cloudy. Just last year, Nevada lawmakers passed dozens of new laws and regulations for both commercial and recreational drone use. For example, the new laws restrict flying under the influence and arming drones. These new laws come during a time when drone sales are expected to increase.
Stay Safe on the Road
You can’t yet fly from the Vegas Strip to your home in a drone taxi just yet, so that means the dangers on our Nevada roads are still very much a threat.
Here at Eric A. Stovall, we have been helping people who have suffered injuries caused by auto accidents in Nevada for almost 30 years. Our services also include personal injury for Nevada residents, and specialty litigation.
For now, keep your eyes on the road; but be aware that the skies are changing here in Nevada, and everyone need to practice safety, whether on the road or in the sky.
If you have questions about an auto accident or personal injury that occurred in the state of Nevada, please contact us at (775)337-1444 or fill out the contact form on this page.
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