Chinese drone manufacturer Ehang conducted a demonstration of its new air taxi for the first time in the US. The all-electric two-seater craft was in the air for five minutes as part of the North Carolina Transportation Summit.
This represents the first time that EHang has received flight approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration, and has helped clear the runway for further demonstrations in the 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. 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. Huazhi Hu, EHang founder, chairman, and CEO
The Ehang 216 can fly for 25 mins with a range of up to 22 miles and due to the crafts lightweight carbon fibre composite construction weights in under 600kgs. The company has currently conducted over two thousand trial flights in China, Austria, the Netherlands, Qatar, and the UAE to ensure that its AAV’s operate safely and reliably.
Prior to this debut flight in the U.S., two EHang 216 AAV’s completed simultaneous trial flights of their commercial sightseeing applications in Guangzhou, China. These trial flights are part of EHang’s joint initiative with the government of Guangzhou to develop Guangzhou to be the first urban air mobility pilot city. These trial flights will enable the company to test flight routes and vertiports to implement the initiative.
EHang is part of a growing number of companies investing in the urban aircraft market including Volocopter who recently raised $55 in additional funding and Boeing partnering with Porsche to develop its own electric craft. Despite the technical and regulatory challenges that could still prevent these vehicles from ever getting off the ground the number of prototypes and money being invested in this field suggest we may see some type of flying taxi service in the not too distant future.