eHang has been busy over the past year, with demonstration flights worldwide, and last week in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina – the birthplace of aviation.
Not a Long Commute
In March, 2019, EHang founder, Mr. Hu Huazhi commuted via EHang AAV (Autonomous Aerial Vehicle) in Guangzhou, China. As you can clearly see, it’s not a long commute, but a demonstration of the faith the founder and others have in the machine. As reported here two years ago, the company flew its entire executive group and and Guangshou city officials in their two-seat machines. eHang reports on their extensive testing and demonstration flights: “To date, EHang has safely conducted over two thousand trial flights in the United States, China, Austria, the Netherlands, Qatar, and the UAE to ensure that its AAVs operate safely and reliably in different areas globally.”
eHang, already prosperous from model drone sales, has invested heavily in a corporate infrastructure and international marketing. They note a Blue Paper from Morgan Stanley Research that projects an “addressable market” of $1.5 trillion for autonomous aircraft by 2040. “With the core concepts of autopilot, full redundancy safety design and cluster management by intelligent command and control center, pilots are no longer necessary for a flight, while passengers only need to click the ‘take-off’ button to fly to the selected destination. EHang will provide every passenger a truly enjoyable journey by the safe and intelligent autopilot system. In February, 2018, EHang has unveiled footage of the latest test flights of EHang AAV in Guangzhou, China. Since then, EHang AAV conducted an array of flight demonstrations in Amsterdam, Doha, Vienna. EHang is a world’s leading autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology platform company based in Guangzhou, China.”
eHang’s First Certified Flight at the Birthplace of Aviation
This represents the first time that the EHang 216 has received flight approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While this was a non-passenger flight, EHang is working with the FAA to secure approval for a passenger trial flight of the EHang 216 in the near future.
“Our mission is to make safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone and this trial flight represents a significant step towards bringing our urban air mobility solutions to the U.S. market,” said EHang founder, chairman, and CEO Huazhi Hu. “Pilotless air taxis have the power to transform everyday life in urban areas since they can lessen pollution, expedite emergency services, and save individuals and businesses time and money through shorter travel times.”
Roy Cooper, the North Carolina Governor, said, “We are proud to have the first autonomous aerial vehicle flying in North America, in North Carolina. Obviously, they are beginning this all of the world and this technology and what it means for transportation, both cargo and passengers, is pretty astronomical. This gonna be very positive for the economy. We want North Carolina to be on the cutting edge of this technology and we’re proud to have EHang here to show and demonstrate to us what can be done with this technology. It’s taking off. We North Carolina has become the pilot that can help move this kind of business forward. We are excited about that.”
To date, eHang has safely conducted over two thousand trial flights in the United States, China, Austria, the Netherlands, Qatar, and the UAE to ensure that its AAVs operate safely and reliably in different areas globally.
Your editor selected this video because it has actual rotor sounds instead of a music soundtrack. There’s no telling how much the sound is modulated.
An eHang Overview
EHang has already delivered 38 units to customers as of December 5, 2019, putting it ahead of the pack with demonstrably capable machines while others display larger concept vehicles.
Before its debut flight in the U.S., two EHang 216 AAVs completed simultaneous trial flights of their commercial sightseeing applications in Guangzhou, China on November 30, 2019. Guangzho will be eHang’s first urban air mobility pilot city, with trial flights demonstrating the AAV’s ability to use a variety of landing platforms.
ADDED January 15, 2020
This came out just three hours ago, and is redundant in some places, but includes a stopped propeller demonstration that is fairly compelling.
Delivery Drones with DHL
Showing they still have links to the smaller drone market, eHang has signed agreements with DHL to fly packages along an eight-kilometer (five mile) route between a customer site and DHL’s service center in Liaobu, Dongguan, Guangdong Province. EHang’s new Falcon series will reduce one-way delivery time from 40 ground minutes to only eight minutes, with cost savings of up to 80 percent per delivery.
eHang certainly seems driven to explore new ways to use their technology. With an ongoing program of showing those capabilities to the world, they will probably surprise us many more times.