Beijing: China has developed the world's first self-flying "passenger drone" capable of carrying a person in the air for more than 20 minutes and the revolutionary project would be tested in the US state of Nevada later this year.
The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, a state non-profit group sponsored by the Governor's Office of Economic Development, will work to help the EHang 184 test and develop its system, state-run People's Daily reported.
The institute will develop test criteria to help EHang Inc prove aircraft worthiness to the Federal Aviation Administration, the report said.
Chinese firm EHang expects to begin testing of the drone in Nevada later this year.
The drone reportedly can fly at altitudes up to 3.5 kilometres for more than 20 minutes. The firm is also working to "revolutionise the way organs are transported in the US" by ferrying them by drone.
The firm has revealed a collaboration with Lung Biotechnology PBC to develop and purchase up to 1,000 units of an evolved version of the 184, the world's first autonomous drone for humans, to automate organ transplant delivery, it said.
In another development, Chinese online retailer JD.Com has begun using drones for deliveries in the countryside of east China's Jiangsu Province.
The service around Suqian City, hometown of JD.Com's founder Liu Qiangdong, can more than halve the cost of delivery to less than 0.5 yuan (USD cents 7.6 cents) per parcel, Xiao Jun, vice president of JD.Com.
At a delivery depot in Suqian's Caoji township, two drones are capable of handling 200 parcels a day.
The drones can each carry 10 to 15 kg of weight and fly 15 to 20 km at a speed of up to 54 km per hour, said Xiao.
They can automatically load and unload goods and operate in moderate rain and wind with a speed of up to 38.5 km per hour, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
It can take a truck hours to navigate the winding mountainous roads that link delivery depots near Suqian, but a drone can make the journey in less than 20 minutes, Xiao said.
Currently, the drones transport goods between depots rather than to customers directly.
The service will be expanded to cover other rural areas in the future when authorities there lift the ban on drone flights, Xia said.