What better way to celebrate Boxing Day than with an unboxing video? This time, it's the Ehang Ghost Drone 2.0, VR edition. Ehang is an interesting company – having made a huge splash at CES last year with their Ehang 184 personal transport multirotor – and the Ghost is an interesting product, so I was glad to finally be able to take it out and fly it.
The Ghost is a phone-controlled drone which, as a general rule, is not a sub-genre that I especially enjoy. However, they have implemented this approach in an entirely unique (but not Yuneec) manner. Your phone is connected not to the drone – which tends to limit range and invite connection issues – but to the goggles, which relay it up to the Ghost via a conventional 2.4 GHz control signal.
Next unique feature: the drone does what you do with the phone: pitch your phone forward and the aircraft pitches forward, roll it to one side and the drone rolls in that same direction, etc. For the most part, it's a remarkably intuitive way to fly – although, as Techinstein pointed out, it gets a big weird if you're flying eyes-on and you want to turn 180 degrees and look back at yourself.
However, once you're wearing the goggles, can just turn your whole body in place and the drone follows along... Combine that with the head-tracking gimbal and you create a remarkably immersive experience for the pilot – really like nothing I've ever experienced before. It's a lot of fun!
The app talks to you constantly, providing updates about the drone's battery and other flight parameters, which is great, unless you're trying to make a video about it – in which case it can be really annoying.
One serious shortcoming was the fact that there is no obvious emergency kill switch available. In an emergency, there is no means to stop the drone, short of physically grabbing hold of it and flipping it over. That's a serious shortcoming, but one that Ehang could overcome with a software update. There is a lot to like about this little flying machine. I'll be keeping an eye on it moving forward...