EHang is a significant player in the quadcopter drone market. The company hopes to extend its unmanned electric VTOL technology to manned applications. The EHang 216 is based on the EHang 184, yet it has eight arms instead of four. This allows for the vehicle to be seat two passengers instead of just one. The single seat version is referred to as the EHang 116. In the summer of 2020, EHang was issued a Special Flight Operations Certificate for its 216 Logistics cargo drone.
The EHang 216 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (“AAV”) was first announced in February 2018. Manned and unmanned flight testing was conducted in China in 2017, and a manned flight test with Dutch prince Pieter Christiaan took place at the Amsterdam Arena in April 2018.
In a July 2017 interview for CNBC, EHang co-founder Derrick Xiong stated that “at this moment we are working closely with Dubai and we have actually, together with them, we have done numerous tests, internally. Also, we have basically done a lot of — many, many times — tests with a passenger on it, including the vice-mayor of Guangzhou City in China and also some governors from Dubai as well. We have done a lot of tests and we aim to do the very first public demo very soon this year.”
As of July 2018 the 216 has made over 1,000 manned flights by July 2018 and has traveled 8.8 km on a single trip.
In April 2019, EHang advertising states "Welcome To The Urban Air Mobility Project" and that their starting point will be Austria. Their vision: "To establish a human-focused, sustainable way for people to get about in the future. We seek to create shortcuts – so transport is no longer restricted by roads. Shortcuts that will allow nature to reconquer areas now occupied by concrete and traffic jams. Shortcuts that offer each person more freedom to move in urban space."
According to an April 16, 2019 interview with Urban Air Mobility Magazine, getting to regular production involves two stages. Stage one is making several hundred copies for testing in multiple countries around the world. Stage two is building the aircraft in large numbers. Their partners now include FACC (a global technology leader of designing, developing and manufacturing lightweight systems for the aerospace industry) located in Austria and ProSiebenSat.1 PULS 4 group for their branding the EHang product. Both companies are located in Austria.
The EHang eVTOL aircraft have proprietary in-flight operating systems. The autopilot and flight control system gathers data from accelerometers, gyroscopes, a magnetic compass, barometers, visual sensors, global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receivers, millimeter wave radars and more, using this information to make intelligent navigation decisions. Other systems include communications, battery management and safety management with support coming from the EHang Command Center.
As of January 2020, EHang has reported that for the EHang 216 aircraft, over 2,000 passenger flight tests have taken place including flying in winds up to 70 km/h (44 mph), in fog and with low visibility situations which have been around 50 m (164 ft). EHang is also seeking U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for their aircraft and their first U.S. flight test took place in January 2020.
EHang has also designed multiple types of E-Ports allowing rooftop landing on tall buildings with interior automated storage. E-Ports have been designed for building with large and small roof areas. E-Ports have also been designed for ground and water based landing facilities as well.
On July 31, 2020, EHang announced the world’s first large payload intelligent aerial firefighting eVTOL aircraft and the design is based on EHang's 216 passenger eVTOL aircraft. The new firefighting version of EHang 216, designated as the "EHang 216F" is specially designed for high-rise firefighting.
The EHang 216F has a maximum flight altitude of 600 meters (1,969 feet) and can carry up to 150 liters (40 gallons) of firefighting foams and six fire extinguisher bombs in a single trip. The firefighting eVTOL uses a visible light zoom camera to identify the location of fire; it then hovers precisely in position and uses a laser aiming device to fire (in order) a window breaker, the fire extinguishing "bombs" and then firefighting foam. Multiple 216Fs can be deployed to rapidly extinguish the fire.
EHang's 216Fs are expected to be deployed in urban fire stations to assist in firefighting within a 5 km (3 mile) radius. EHang’s autopilot and centralized management technologies enable a fleet of EHang 216Fs to be remotely dispatched for first response even before the firefighters arrive by their firefighting trucks. This could significantly shorten response time and can reduce casualties.
We are pleased to introduce the EHang 216F AAV aerial firefighting solution, which solves difficult challenges in high-rise firefighting. The high-rise fire use case highlights the practical application of our passenger-grade AAV platform to different smart city management needs. The potential of our intelligent AAV technology platform is boundless. We will explore and develop more aerial solutions and use cases to empower smart cities.
—Huazhi Hu, EHang’s Founder, Chairman and CEO, July 31, 2020
In January 2021, it was announced that EHang has joined the European Air Mobility Urban – Large Experimental Demonstrations (AMU-LED) project which will be conducting flight tests using its eVTOL aircraft in the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. The initiative will be conducting tests from 2020 through 2023 to prove that integrating eVTOL aircraft is practical and possible. The companies involved in this Urban Air Mobility testing include Airbus, AirHub, Altitude Angel, ANRA Technologies, Boeing Research & Technology-Europe, FADA-CATEC, Cranfield University, EHang, ENAIRE, Gemeente Amsterdam, INECO, ITG, Jeppesen, NLR, Space53 and Tecnalia.
On Feb. 11, 2021, eVTOL Magazine reported, "Chinese developer EHang, which claims to be providing limited services on mainland China and is a participant in numerous European airspace study projects, has seen its stock rise almost ten-fold since October, valuing the company at almost $6 billion at the time of this writing."
On Feb. 16, 2021, Dan David of Wolfpack Research (based in the USA), an activist short-seller, claimed that EHang has misrepresented its revenue, intellectual property and progress to market its eVTOL aircraft. EHang founder Huazhi Hu issued a rebuttal through a question and answer format. eVTOL magazine reprinted the rebuttal in its entirety online here.
Here are some quotes from the eVTOL Magazine article: "Short-selling reports are tools used by certain profit seekers on the capital market — I get that. But this short-seller did not attempt to understand EHang’s technologies and business model. Its report was based on shoddy research and contains numerous errors, unsubstantiated statements, and misinterpretation of information." —Huazhi Hu, CEO and Founder of Ehang. Hu also stated, "Since 2017, we have taken over 10,000 trial flights with our AAVs (autonomous aerial vehicles) in 41 cities and eight countries. Our AAVs have passed rigorous tests with empty-load, cargo-load, and passenger-load. Many people have experienced the flights in our AAVs."
On Feb. 19, 2021, it was reported by Future Flight that EHang stepped up efforts to reassure investors against the negative Wolfpack Research report and that EHang calls Wolfpack a self-serving "short-seller." EHang plans to hold an investors day in June 2021 at its Yunfu factory (near the city of Guangzhou) where it manufactures the EHang 216 eVTOL two-seat passenger multicopter.
- Aircraft type: eVTOL
- Piloting: Autonomous
- Passengers: 2
- Cruise speed: 100 km/h (62 mph)
- Maximum speed: 130 km/h (81 mph)
- Maximum altitude: 3,000 m (9,843 ft)
- Range: 35 km (22 miles)
- Flight time: 21 minutes
- Passenger control panel: 30.5 cm (12 in) screen
- Payload: 220 kg (485 lb)
- Battery recharging time: 120 minutes
- Propellers: 16
- Electric motors: 16
- Windows: Large windows for spectacular views for the passengers
- Doors: 2 gull-wing doors
- Landing gear: Fixed skid type
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), having multiple propellers and motors provides safety through redundancy for its passengers. If one or two motors or propellers fail or more, the other working propellers can safely land the aircraft. The aircraft has a multitude of sensors and navigation equipment to allowing the aircraft to make smart decisions depending upon weather and obstacles during the flight. EHang Command Control Centers also increase the safety of the aircraft.
- EHang website
- EHang Urban Air Mobility Information
- EHang Facebook
- EHang Twitter
- EHang Instagram
- EHang YouTube
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- Article: EHang To Perform Flight Tests In Europe Next Year After Joining Urban Air Mobility Initiative, eVTOL Insights, Jan. 21, 2021
- Article: SESAR U-space partners launch smart city air mobility trials, SESAR Joint Undertaking, Jan. 21, 2021
- Article: EHang to demo medical air mobility in two European projects, eVTOL Magazine, Feb. 6, 2021
- Article: Joby Aviation to announce $5.7 billion SPAC deal, Lilium and others to follow in banner month for eVTOL industry, eVTOL Magazine, Feb. 11, 2021
- Article: EHang founder responds to Wolfpack Research allegations, eVTOL Magazine, Feb. 17, 2021
- Article: EHang fires off further rebuttals in investor relations war with Wolfpack, Future Flight, Feb. 19, 2021
- Video: EHang 216: aerial city night scene is coming, EastWest Connect, May 25, 2021
- Article: Episode 1: EHang latest updates, rumours and general chit-chat, Urban Air Mobility News, June 4, 2021