Residents of Chinese metropolis Guangzhou can soon expect to see autonomous drones flitting over the city after drone manufacturer EHang announced the launch of its first urban air mobility pilot city program this past week.
UAM is a low-altitude aviation transportation network that shuttles passengers and goods in what EHang officials describe as a “safe, fast, environmentally friendly, cost-efficient and intelligent way.”
EHang will assist Guangzhou officials in the set-up of a command-and-control center to ensure that multiple AAVs flying simultaneously in the city can remain in the air in a safe manner and can potentially respond to urban emergencies.
A corporate release states:
“On the passenger front, EHang plans to use the pilot program in Guangzhou to test more flight routes and vertiports based on practical application scenarios before moving into commercial operations. Next, EHang plans to work with more partners to expand the operations to cover more areas in Guangzhou and transport a wider variety of high-value low-weight goods, including blood and organs for emergency medical use.”
“We are very excited about exploring the various meaningful ways in which AAVs can solve some of the stressors our congested cities face,” EHang CEO Hu Huazhi said.
“We are in conversations with other cities, not just in China, to develop safe, efficient and affordable autonomous air transportation.”
Guangzhou’s Vice Mayor Chen Zhiying said: “Guangzhou is one of the four transportation hubs in the Greater Bay Area. The city has always been very accommodating to innovation, which provides EHang with the perfect ecosystem to build out a smart UAM market.”
In May, German postal giant DHL Express partnered with EHang to create a drone delivery solution that tackles last-mile delivery challenges in urban parts of China.
In January 2019, the Civil Aviation Administration of China chose EHang as the nation’s first pilot company for passenger drone development.
According to a 2019 DRONELIFE report:
The company first received major buzz in 2016, when they unveiled a prototype of the EHang 184 passenger drone. Since then, the company – which also makes a recreational quadcopter called the Ghostdrone, although we can’t find that on their site now; and a commercial quad, the Falcon series – has had some ups and downs.
After virtually disappearing for some time, EHang appears to be back in the headlines. The company closed a U.S. office in 2017, and actually declared bankruptcy in CA – but told DRONELIFE that they were still in a very strong economic position and were refocusing on the commercial market.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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