Come and see the first ‘manned drones’ that will soon take off


Okay, talking about a “manned drone” is as monumental an oxymoron as talking about a bonsai the size of a tree, given that precisely the word “drone” refers to an unmanned aircraft. Apparently the term began to be used with this use in 1946, but why not guess its origin?

With this use, because the word already existed: although it may seem, is not an acronym, but a common English word that designates the male bees responsible for fertilizing the queen. We call them drones, and it is clear why instead of translating the original term we have simply Spanishized it as “drone”. It is a case similar to Wolverine’s, that of the X-Men: wolverine is not a baby wolf, but a different species, a mustelid with the scientific name Gulo gulo that in Spanish is known as … glutton.

The autonomous personal air vehicle Ehang 184. YouTube image.

The autonomous personal air vehicle Ehang 184. YouTube image.

But what I was going. The current drones are those that have popularized the configuration of the quadcopter, the apparatus of four horizontal propellers, and this same scheme is the one adopted by the Russian company HoverSurf for its Scorpion-3, a pileup that its own inventors qualify as hoverbike , or flying bike; another oxymoron, since the two wheels are missing. HoverSurf already accepts orders, although at the moment they do not offer details about dates and prices. See it in action, but I must warn you: do not expect anything spectacular. Yes, fly, fly

The question of how to call these artifacts illustrates the fact that we still do not have standardized words to name personal air vehicles. Naturally, because we still do not have personal air vehicles, which they call PAV for its acronym in English. And it is unlikely that we will have them, but it will not be for lack of bets. As I have said here on some previous occasion, there are several initiatives that are taking to practice the most classic of retrofuturistic gadgets , and several of them already work.

Even the European Union has funded a project to study the concept. But only the concept: imagine what it would be like to try to regulate a three-dimensional traffic that could overcome any obstacle or barrier? Can you imagine some overtaking not only by left and right, but by up and down? It would be the paradise of aggressive drivers.

The most visionary of the current millionaire technologists, Elon Musk, who with his Tesla brand promotes the auto-mobiles (that is, the cars that really are), has long since fallen out of the idea of ​​the flying car. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, he reiterated that it does not seem like a good idea: “If someone does not keep his flying car well, he could fall off a hubcap and guillotine.” Instead, Musk opts to take the traffic to the third dimension, but not above, but below, digging tunnels.

And despite everything, it seems that the first PAV are going to take off this year. The government of Dubai intends to launch in July a service of air taxis using Chinese quadcopter Ehang 184 (actually with eight propellers arranged two to two). According to the director general of the Emirates Highways and Tansports Authority, Mattar Al-Tayer, traveling in these flying cars will be “like riding an elevator”. The vehicles will not be driven by their sole passenger, but will be autonomous; They will fly alone to the programmed destination with the help of a ground control center.