If Ehang’s name means anything to you, it’s probably because you’ve heard of the Ehang 184 drone dubbed the Flying Taxi which was unveiled at CES earlier this year. The company is indeed known as the manufacturer of an air taxi that is still in the design phase, but it also makes a number of small drones that do not carry people.
One of them is the Ghost Drone 2.0 a new and improved version of the company’s original drone, designed for flight in the first-person view, We put it to the test in a series of tests. Here are our reviews and our review.
Out of the box, the GhostDrone 2.0 sports a fairly comprehensive set of features and functionality.
It offers approximately 25 minutes of flight time, a maximum range of approximately one kilometer, a maximum speed of approximately 70 kilometers per hour and a 4K gimbal camera that helps you capture impressive aerial images of your flights.
The most notable feature of the drone is that it cannot be flown with a traditional joystick controller.
All piloting is done through Ehang’s smartphone app (Android | iOS) which allows you to fly in a variety of modes, including Waypoint, Avatar, Follow Me, and even in manual mode.
QUALITY AND RELIABILITY
The GhostDrone 2.0 gives an impression of fragility when you hold it in your hands. While the arms and legs are sturdy enough to survive short drops and hard landings, the drone doesn’t shine for its strength.
This is particularly disturbing if we consider in addition that the drone is not equipped with an automated obstacle avoidance system.
That said, Ehang markets the GhostDrone with one of the strongest warranties we’ve ever seen. For your first year after purchase, the company agrees to repair the drone free of charge as long as it has not been disassembled or modified in any way. So while the drone might not be the strongest and toughest drone we’ve ever encountered, it’s reassuring to know that bumping into a tree or crashing into the asphalt isn’t the end of the game. world.
RANGE, BATTERY LIFE AND RECHARGE TIME
With optimal conditions, Ehang says the GhostDrone flies for about 25 minutes, but that’s without any accessories, like the camera or the gimbal.
Our test model was a bit heavier. When we had it pass a hover test, it held 21 minutes before the drone’s autopilot activated and caused it to land.
Push the drone all the way to the balloons and the battery won’t last that long, of course.
We kept it in the air for about 18 minutes in normal flight and even with plenty of throttle propulsion and sporty handling it never went below 17 minutes of flight time.
One thing we really liked about the battery is that it comes with a built-in LCD display.
When plugged in for recharging, the LCD screen can estimate the approximate time before reaching 100% recharge. Once you’ve plugged it in you know how long it will take before you can start flying again.
Regarding range, Ehang claims that the Ghost Drone can travel about a mile from the pilot before losing communication.
The flight distance recommended by Ehang is only 500 meters, and in our tests, we could not exceed 325 meters before the drone lost radio communication.
It’s also worth noting that when you fly out of range, the drone doesn’t just return to the pilot until it reestablishes a connection, it automatically returns to the starting point before giving you back control, which is rather boring.
CONTROL AND STEERING
Flying the GhostDrone 2.0 is a little different from flying a traditional drone.
In an effort to make it more accessible for beginners, Ehang decided to do without the dual joystick controller. Instead, the drone is controlled via commands issued from your smartphone or tablet.
Using a smartphone app, users can choose between two main flight modes: Touch To Go and Avatar.
In Touch To Go, the Ehang version of Waypoint mode, you are in front of a satellite map of your surroundings. Just tap the map to set the desired destination, then tap again to send the drone there.
It’s incredibly simple, and while it’s not a particularly exciting way to fly, we’ve found that Ehang actually performs Waypoint Mode better than most other drone makers.
Even the most novice users will have no problem flying this way.
The second mode, called Avatar, is a lot more fun.
When using it, the control of roll, pitch and yaw is coupled with the orientation of your smartphone.
Tilt your phone forward, backward, or side to side and the drone will fly in that direction. To control the yaw, all you need to do is turn your body. The Ghost Drone 2.0 instantly adjusts its orientation so that it faces the same direction as your phone.
This control mode makes driving very intuitive. The learning period is virtually nonexistent, and Ehang has succeeded in his mission to create a drone that even the most inexperienced person can fly.
But such simplicity comes at a cost: what you gain in simplicity, you lose in precision.
The on-the-fly tilt setup is pretty fun (especially when paired with FPV goggles), but it also has its limitations.
Starting and stopping maneuvers by tilting your phone is too soft and too imprecise, so you can’t fly with as much confidence and control as with a pair of joysticks under your thumbs.
Altitude is controlled via a slider on your touchscreen, which is also imprecise and hard to find when you have glasses on your face.
CAMERA AND ACCESSORIES
The camera on this drone is capable of shooting in 4K, and while it’s not as great as the one you’ll find on DJI’s Phantom series or Yuneec’s Typhoon drones, it’s not that bad for a drone in this price range.
The GhostDrone offers a 120-degree field of view, captures images in 4K at 24 frames per second (or 2.5K at 30 frames per second or 1080p at 60 frames / s) and takes 16-megapixel shots.
We didn’t have very precise control over the drone’s flight but still took some decent photos with the on-board camera.
What really makes this drone interesting is not the camera or the camera, it’s the included FPV goggles that the camera transmits video to.
These goggles allow you to see what the drone sees at a maximum distance of around 300 meters.
To be fair, the glasses aren’t great: they don’t have a wide field of view, and the video transmitted is not of very high quality.
Thanks to the built-in accelerometers, the VR headset can not only detect when you move your head up or down, but it can send this information to the drone and use it as a motion command for the camera.
If you look up, the camera points to the sky. If you look down, the camera will pivot towards the ground.
This is a super cool feature that makes the FPV flight experience more immersive, but unfortunately, you are limited to going up and down (the headset cannot follow left / right movement or tilt).
There is hope, however. The headset’s accelerometers can detect movement along three axes, it’s just that the camera isn’t designed to rotate left or right.
Theoretically, Ehang could launch a camera upgrade that could allow horizontal head tracking.
The camera on the Ghost is actually quite easy to remove and could easily be replaced with a new one although we’re not sure the company has any plans for hardware upgrade options.
While the Ghost Drone 2.0 is really fun to fly especially in FPV, it ultimately lacks the precision and responsive controls needed to make it useful for anything other than occasional recreational use.
Is there a better alternative?
Yes. In fact, there are several. For less than $ 1,000, you can get a mid-level DJI Phantom and a pair of Fat Shark FPV goggles, which will give you a comparable experience with better specs and more advanced features.
Another great option is Parrot’s Bebop 2 FPV , which provides a great out-of-the-box FPV experience with better range and more precise steering.
What is the lifespan of the eHang Ghost Drone 2.0?
The drone itself will continue to fly for a few years (assuming you don’t crash it into a lake), and if Ehang continues to release firmware updates, we have no reason to believe the Ghost Drone 2.0 won’t last a decade or more. However, due to the rapid pace of advancements in UAV technology, the specifications and capabilities of this drone have already been eclipsed. There is a high probability that this drone will become obsolete in about two years.
Should you buy it?
Probably not. If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive FPV drone that does not require flying experience, this drone might be right for you.
On the other hand, if you’re interested in going beyond the basic controls and doing more things with your drone, you’d better explore other options.