This drone can carry a human passenger and is controlled by a Microsoft Surface

Vu Anh Nguyen

Here is the most daring product to come out of CES 2016 by far, Microsoft-tech-controlled or not: A drone that’s also a one-person aerial vehicle. Officially named EHANG 184 AAV (“one person, eight propellers, and four wings, the titular drone is made by Guangzhou-based Chinese dronemaker Ehang, stemming from the owner’s desire to make the “absolute safe aerial vehicle.”

On the outside, the EHANG 184 looks less like your normal quadrocopter drone, and more like a small helicopter with the tail part and main copter sawn off completely, replaced by four pairs of relatively tiny propellers to four sides.

Those frail-looking wings belies the EHANG 184’s true capabilities, though, as it’s demonstrably able to carry a person in its cockpit with light luggage (can be stored in the back compartment) at up to 60mph for “medium-short distances.” The drone boasts an advanced automated system, which can control the flight path and take over for a safe landing in case of problems. Users need only to plot the destination and give 2 commands, “take off” and “land”, with a remote controller. Guess what that remote controller is? A Microsoft Surface.

The size and placement of the Windows button suggests that it’s a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 in charge. The official trailer makes a pretty convincing case of just why a Surface Pro 3 was chosen: the tester is seen effortlessly choosing his destination with touch on the map app to the right, while a status board app sits comfortably on the left and control pad app floating at the bottom. In other words, Windows’ side-by-side awesomeness. Bar my deduction however, there wasn’t anything said about the reason for the Surface Pro 3; nevertheless, it goes to show once again that Microsoft’s machine has gotten pretty popular with creators.

Ehang will have a lot of hurdles to jump through to get their ambitious drone legally in the air, as the company itself also admits. I’d still want one though, if just so I could add another use case to my Surface Pro 3’s book of feats.

Thanks to WinBeta reader webguy for the tip!