Surfing is part of the techie’s world more than we’d usually acknowledge. In the water our equipment, our wetsuits, and our little unnecessary but useful gadgets are turning the act of catching waves into a data collecting race toward advancement. Somebody invents something new and useful, no matter how complicated, and if it can up your game on a wave or get you there quicker then it’s probably going to catch on in the action sports community.
So while the tech world spent the last week in Las Vegas browsing the aisles of this year’s CES 2016 it’d be hard to say there wasn’t a gadget or two that could flip a day of surfing, skiing, or any other adventure on its head. This year that gadget was a super sized single person drone, which basically just brought us within half a step of living in a world with flying cars, Fifth Element style. I’d imagine nobody designed the brand new Ehang 184 as a wave hunting machine, but if you have the cash and are so inclined to apply the personal drone as such then a whole world of secret spot possibilities just opened up in front of you.
The Ehang looks exactly like the creepy quadcopter drones that fly over you with GoPros attached when the waves are pumping and some videographer is looking to make a new edit of their local spot – only this one is big enough to carry a person. Slap a soft rack on top of this thing and you’re never sitting in traffic for an after work session again. According to Ehang, the 184 Personal Flying Vehicle will autonomously take you anywhere you want within a 10-mile radius of take off. As a passenger, and since this is a drone, you won’t be flying the 8-propeller machine yourself. Aside from a take off, pause flight and land controls the 184 essentially takes it’s cargo from point A to point B once the destination is set via a dedicated smart phone app. The next 20 plus minutes you sit in your own little wave hunting vehicle with air conditioning and a 4G data connection (because duh) looking out the window for waves.
In case you’re highly skeptical that such a thing exists now and will actually be available to the public (I’m in that boat with you too), Ehang is dead serious about getting these things on the market. Soon. While they didn’t announce a price tag at CES (they estimate between $200,000 and $300,000) they did reveal planning to make the drone commercially available this year. I guess now we know what you’re doing with all that Powerball money.