I’m typically an avid traveler, frequently taking my drones to spots around the world like Australia, Oman and even the Arctic Circle. This summer, I’m staying at home — but that doesn’t mean I’m not dreaming about travel every day. And since they’re just dreams — why not dream of offbeat, aspirational travel….like taking an EHang passenger drone right to your hotel?
And it turns out that the EHang passenger drone might soon be more reality than dream.
Chinese drone company EHang Holdings and Chinese tourism platform LN Holdings have teamed up — and one of their first products is shuttling passengers via drone to the LN Garden Hotel, a landmark 5-star luxury hotel in Guangzhou, China.
EHang showed off a prototype in a press event at the hotel (that included drone rides) for journalists earlier this year.
Beyond just transporting human passengers via drone, the hotel’s amenities will also include aerial media light shows, drone-related exhibitions and education. EHang says this makes the LN Garden Hotel the “world’s first UAM theme hotel.” EHang said it hopes to eventually allow passengers to ride the drones around landmarks such as the Canton Tower, Beijing Road and the Pearl River.
Watch it in action here, in this video provided by EHang:
EHang is a bit of an odd company. They wowed audiences at CES 2016 when they first debuted their human-sized drone.
That same year, they were also selling a consumer-focused drone called the GhostDrone that was far too complicated, and also one of the worst drones I’ve ever reviewed.
EHang then looked toward Intel’s successes with drone light shows in developing their own drones. While they did briefly break Intel’s record for largest drone light show display, the show was largely classified as a disaster, after signal interference caused some drones to break from the formation, and some even fell out of the sky.
EHang’s focus is back on passenger drones. The company announced last spring at the “Urban Air Mobility” event in Vienna, Austria, that it had teamed up with Austrian-based aerospace company FACC to produce taxi drones.
And it’s unclear how much of this will actually come to fruition, vs. how much may be nothing more than a publicity stunt. For example, EHang was behind another publicity stunt back in 2017 when Dubai’s transportation agency chief said that human-ferrying drones would begin transporting people across the city by that summer. Of course, that never ended up happening — so it’s not entirely clear the LN Garden Hotel drone flights will actually happen either.
EHang also made its debut on the stock market in December 2019 with a public offering price of $12.50 per share. It ended up opening on its first trading day of 2020 in the $10 realm, where it still hovers today.