Flying Taxi Makes U.S. Debut at North Carolina Demonstration

A flying taxi with no pilot made its first U.S. test flight in North Carolina with an audience of about 100 people, including several state officials.

Gov.Roy Cooper, state lawmakers and North Carolina Department of Transportation officials were among the more than 100 spectators at Tuesday's demonstration of the EHang 216 autonomous aerial vehicle.

The two-seat drone is designed for use in cargo delivery and human transportation.

"Autonomous connected vehicles of any type are where transportation is headed," North Carolina Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon told The News & Observer. "We want to bring these kinds of opportunities to make sure that we're economically competitive."

Officials said they were particularly interested in EHang's project because the company is also developing an airspace management system designed to handle hundreds of flying taxis at once.

Derrick Xiong, Ehang's cofounder, said the company has previously done demonstration flights in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The test flight Tuesday at the State Highway Patrol's test track,located south of Raleigh, did not include any passengers flying inside the drone, as Federal Aviation Administration rules currently do not allow autonomous aircraft to carry people.

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