Buckle Up, Hang on Tight: Nevada Wants to Put You Into a Drone Taxi

Nevada’s economic development team wants their state to be a “global leader” in drones. More specifically, Nevada seeks to lead the world in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles -- drones that fly themselves and carry passengers.

In March 2016, the first urban drone delivery — a package containing bottled water, emergency food, and a first-aid kit — was conducted in Hawthorne, Nev., which isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis.

But Matthew Sweeney, the CEO of Flirtey, the company that did the test flight, said it’s a start. He told Popular Science the next goal is to do a drone delivery “over an urban, populated area, the kind of environment that people live in on a daily basis.”

A couple of months later, Nevada became the first state in the nation, in May 2016, where a fixed-wing unmanned aircraft successfully tested a cloud-seeding payload.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for the state of Nevada, and everyone involved,” the project’s lead scientist, Adam Watts, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

And now comes the EHang 184, a passenger-drone taxi that will be tested in Nevada by EHang Inc, a company based in China.

The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the public-private partnership known as the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems have agreed to collaborate with EHang on flight testing, training and development of the drone taxi at Nevada’s FAA UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) Test Site.

Tom Wilczek, the GOED’s Aerospace and Defense Industry Specialist, said in a statement that he looked "forward to the day when drone taxis are part of Nevada’s transportation system."

Huazhi Hu, the founder and CEO of EHang, said the partnership with Nevada would lay the foundation for the commercialization of the EHang 184.