This Hybrid SUV Can Launch a Drone From Its Roof
It’s not the first time we’ve seen an EV with a built-in drone.
As if BYD’s hybrid SUV that can wade in the water for half an hour wasn’t ridiculous enough, the Chinese automaker added a built-in drone option to its EV.
BYD revealed the latest version of its YangWang U8 hybrid SUV that comes with a vehicle-mounted drone system on its roof during its Dream Day event. BYD partnered with none other than DJI to design this drone-equipped SUV.
A drone built into an EV may seem new, but Polestar beat BYD to the punch when it showed off its O2 concept that did exactly that. Since then, the Swedish EV maker has developed its concept into the Polestar 6, but seems to have omitted the drone in the final design. That leaves the field wide open for BYD to be the first to mass produce an EV that comes with a drone, as unnecessary as it may seem.
Conquer the Skies From the Road
As seen in BYD’s promotional materials, there’s a modified version of a DJI Mavic drone and three spare batteries stored in the rooftop compartment. The mechanism even loads up a battery into the drone before releasing it into the wild. You can watch it all happen too, thanks to a camera within the EV’s rooftop docking system.
Once you take flight with the DJI drone, you can operate it with a custom controller that doesn’t have a screen, as seen in some leaked images. That’s because you get the equivalent of DJI’s Fly app on the YangWang U8’s infotainment center. When you’re done capturing all those sick action shots and b-roll of your SUV driving through the countryside, you can activate DJI’s Return to Home feature and it will automatically fly back to the YangWang U8’s rooftop dock.
That’s all on top of a hybrid SUV that’s expected to get a 621-mile range thanks to a 49 kWh battery and a 75-liter fuel tank. Even better, the car’s power supply can also keep your drone and its spare batteries topped off.
The Best Drones Don’t Come Cheap
As unique of a car as this YangWang U8 model is, we can’t help but wonder what the target audience is. Your typical SUV driver isn’t exactly missing out on having a drone with them, but the possibility could help them identify how bad traffic is in front or how sketchy the road conditions are. More realistically, this was made for outdoorsy influencers who want to be extra when capturing their road trip adventures.
Luckily, the drone doesn’t come standard with the YangWang U8. BYD hasn’t revealed pricing for the trim that includes the custom DJI, but we do know that the Premium Edition that can temporarily wade in water will start at around $150,000. It’s hard to stay how much staying afloat in water equates to having a complete drone setup built into your EV, but we’re expecting a premium pricetag.