eHang Ghost Drone 2.0

MSRP $1,099.99

“Smartphone controls and FPV goggles make the Ghost Drone enjoyable and simple to fly.”

execs

  • Easy, intuitive controls

  • A number of flight modes

  • Included FPV goggles

  • Nice guarantee

cons

  • Mushy, admire controls

  • Brief vary

  • Restricted head monitoring

If the identify Ehang rings a bell, it is in all probability since you’ve heard or learn concerning the firm’s 184 Drone — aka, the flying taxi that was unveiled at CES earlier this yr. The corporate could also be finest often known as the purveyor of a yet-to-be-released sky taxi, nevertheless it additionally makes various smaller drones that do not carry individuals. The newest of those is the Ghost Drone 2.0 — a brand new and improved model of the corporate’s unique drone that is designed for first particular person view flying. We took it for a spin to see the way it stacks up towards among the extra in style drones available on the market.

options

Out of the field, the Ghost Drone 2.0 sports activities a good set of specs and options. It offers about 25 minutes of flight time, a most working vary of about one kilometer (0.62 miles), most pace of about 43 miles per hour, and a gimbaled 4K digital camera that helps you seize superior aerial footage of your flights.

The included first particular person view goggles let you see by the eyes of the drone’s digital camera.

That is all pretty customary for drones today, however one factor that units the ghost aside from the competitors is the truth that it comes with a set of first-person view (FPV) goggles that allow you to see by the eyes of the drone’s digital camera. As an added bonus, they’re additionally geared up with tilt sensors, so if you transfer your head up or down, the drone’s digital camera will transfer accordingly. How cool is that?

The drone’s most notable characteristic is that it would not include a standard joystick controller. All piloting is through Ehang’s accompanying smartphone app (Android | iOS) — which lets you fly in a wide range of completely different modes, together with Waypoint, Avatar, Comply with Me, and even Guide mode.

High quality & Sturdiness

The Ghost Drone 2.0 feels mediocre in our arms. You may’t count on an excessive amount of from a drone that goes for $400 (with out FPV goggles) — however even in comparison with DJI’s most cost-effective choices, it is on the flimsy aspect. Whereas the legs and arms are sturdy sufficient to outlive quick drops and unintentionally laborious landings, they do not really feel like they’d deal with a 30-foot plummet and survive. That is particularly troubling when you think about that the drone is not geared up with any form of automated impediment avoidance system.

That stated, Ehang backs the Ghost Drone with some of the sturdy warranties we have ever seen. To your first yr of possession, the corporate will restore the drone freed from cost so long as it wasn’t disassembled or modified in any method. So, whereas the drone may not be the sturdiest or most sturdy one we have ever encountered, it is reassuring to know that hitting a tree or crashing on asphalt is not the top of the world.

Battery Life, Vary, & Cost Time

With optimum circumstances, Ehang says the Ghost Drone will fly for about 25 minutes — however that is with none equipment, just like the digital camera or gimbal. Our demo unit was weighed down a bit extra, so once we put it by a stationary hover take a look at, it managed 21 minutes earlier than the drone’s autopilot freaked out and introduced it down for a touchdown.

Ehang has succeeded in his mission to create a drone that even probably the most inexperienced particular person can fly.

Push the drone tougher and it will not final as lengthy, after all. We saved it within the air for a mean of about 18 minutes with regular flight — and even with loads of throttle motion and dramatic pitching, it by no means dipped beneath 17 minutes of airtime.

One factor we actually loved concerning the battery is that it comes with a built-in LCD display screen; if you plug it in for a recharge, it may possibly estimate the approximate time earlier than you attain one hundred pc. It is a godsend, because it alleviates the necessity for periodic checkups in your recharge progress. When you plug it into your wall, you know the way lengthy it will be earlier than you will get again to flying.

As for vary, Ehang claims that the Ghost Drone can journey roughly one kilometer from the pilot earlier than it loses communication. Ehang’s really useful working distance is simply 500 meters, and in our assessments, we may solely take it out to round 300-325 meters (about 1,000 ft) earlier than the drone misplaced radio communication. It is also value mentioning that if you fly out of vary, the drone would not merely fly again towards the pilot till it reestablishes a connection — it routinely flies all the way in which again to the place to begin earlier than it relinquishes management once more, which is somewhat annoying .

Piloting, Management, & Autonomy

Piloting the Ghost Drone 2.0 is a bit completely different than flying a standard drone. In an effort to make it extra approachable for rookies, Ehang determined to forego the dual-joystick controller. As a substitute, the drone is managed through instructions issued out of your smartphone or pill.

Utilizing an accompanying smartphone app, customers can select between two important flight modes: Contact To Go and Avatar. In Contact To Go, Ehang’s model of waypoint flying, you are offered with a satellite tv for pc map of your environment. Merely faucet the map to set your required vacation spot, then faucet once more to ship the drone there. It is extremely easy, and whereas it isn’t a very thrilling technique to fly, we discovered that Ehang really executes waypoint mode higher than most different drone corporations. Even probably the most novice customers may have no hassle flying on this trend.

The second mode — known as Avatar — is rather more enjoyable. Utilizing it, management of roll, pitch, and yaw are mapped to the orientation of your smartphone. Tilt your cellphone ahead, backward, or aspect to aspect, and the drone will fly in that course. To regulate yaw, you merely flip your physique; Ghost Drone 2.0 will immediately modify its orientation in order that it is going through the identical course your cellphone is pointing.

This management scheme makes for extremely intuitive piloting. The educational curve is virtually non-existent, and Ehang has succeeded in his mission to create a drone that even probably the most inexperienced particular person can fly. However such simplicity comes at a price: what you achieve in simplicity you lose in precision.

The lean-to-fly setup is kind of enjoyable (particularly when paired with FPV goggles), nevertheless it’s additionally on the squirrely aspect. Beginning and stopping maneuvers by tilting your cellphone feels mushy and imprecise, so you’ll be able to’t fly with as a lot confidence and management as you may with a pair of joysticks underneath your thumbs. Altitude is managed through a slider in your touchscreen, which additionally feels imprecise and is tough to seek out when you have got goggles in your face. As soon as you are taking your thumb off the slider, it is laborious to seek out till you are taking the goggs off.

Digicam, equipment, & upgradeability

The digital camera on this sucker is able to taking pictures in 4K, and whereas it isn’t fairly as superior because the one you may discover on DJI’s Phantom collection or Yuneec’s Storm drones, it isn’t unhealthy for a drone on this value vary. The Ghost Drone’s shooter boasts a 120-degree area of view, captures photos in 4K at 24 frames per second (or 2.5K at 30 fps, or 1080p at 60 fps), and grabs 16-megapixel stills. We by no means had tremendous exact management over the drone’s flight, however we took first rate photographs with the onboard digital camera nonetheless.

What actually makes this drone worthwhile is not the digital camera — it is the included FPV goggles to which the digital camera transmits video. These suckers allow you to see what the drone sees from a most distance of about 900 ft. To be sincere, they are not nice: They do not have an enormous area of view and the transmitted video is not very top quality. We might take a pair of Fats Shark Dominator goggles over these any day…however they do have one characteristic that makes them fairly rattling enjoyable to play with: movement monitoring.

Because of built-in accelerometers, the headset cannot solely inform if you transfer your head up or down, it may possibly ship that data to the drone and use it as a motion command for the digital camera. When you lookup, the digital camera pans towards the sky. When you look down, the digital camera angles towards the earth. It is a tremendous cool characteristic and makes the FPV flying expertise extra immersive, however sadly you are restricted to up and down — the headset cannot monitor left/proper motion or tilting. What the hell, Ehang?

There is likely to be hope although. The headset’s accelerometers can sense movement alongside three axes — it is simply that the digital camera is not designed to pan left or proper on the drone. Theoretically, Ehang may launch a digital camera improve that would allow horizontal head monitoring. The digital camera on the Ghost is definitely pretty simple to take away and will simply be swapped for a brand new one — though we’re unsure if the corporate has any plans for {hardware} improve choices.

Our take

Whereas the Ghost Drone is unquestionably enjoyable to fly, it in the end lacks the precision and tight controls essential to make it helpful for something greater than informal leisure use.

Is there a greater different?

sure In truth, there are a handful of them. For 1,000 bucks, you will get you a mid-level DJI Phantom and a pair of Fats Shark FPV goggles, which might provide you with a comparable expertise with lots higher specs and superior controls. One other nice choice is Parrot’s Bebop 2 FPV, which affords a superb out-of-the-box FPV expertise with higher vary and extra exact piloting.

How lengthy will it final?

The drone itself will seemingly maintain flying for a couple of years (assuming you do not crash it right into a lake), and if Ehang retains pushing firmware updates, we have now no purpose to imagine that the Ghost Drone 2.0 would not final for half a decade or extra. Nevertheless, because of the speedy tempo of advances in UAV know-how, the specs and capabilities of this drone have already been overshadowed. There is a excessive probability that this drone might be out of date in two years or so.

Do you have to purchase it?

Most likely not. When you’re on the lookout for a comparatively low cost FPV rig that does not have a steep studying curve, this chicken is likely to be what you are after — however in the event you’re even in the slightest degree excited by pushing past fundamental controls and doing extra along with your drone, you would be sensible to discover different choices.

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