EHang, a pioneer in the development of autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology, is entering a strategic partnership with property developer Heli Chuangxin to build out an urban air mobility facility project in Guangzhou, China. The announcement is significant as it presents an important milestone in commercial operations for and advent of autonomous flying taxis.
Two EHang passenger-grade AAVs performed simultaneous flight in the city’s downtown area and near the landmark of Canton Tower and LIEDE Bridge – areas popular with tourists in Guangzhou.
Under the terms of the partnership agreement, Heli Chuangxin and EHang are committed to building up the infrastructure for the world’s first commercial in-city sightseeing UAM route in Guangzhou.
In November, two passenger-grade AAVs of the two-seater EHang 216 model performed simultaneous flight demos, vertically taking off from and landing at Heli Tiande Centre in Guangzhou on the Centre’s opening day. Six EHang 216 AAVs were also on display.
The demos took place four months after EHang announced that it had selected Guangzhou as its first urban air mobility pilot city globally. EHang and Guangzhou plan to establish a low-altitude air transportation network that shuttles passengers and cargo in a safe, fast, environmentally friendly, and cost-efficient manner.
The pilot program enables EHang to test more flight routes and vertiports before moving into passenger-grade commercial operations. Last year, EHang already started commercial operations of air cargo transportation in and near its home base in Guangzhou, working with DHL-Sinotrans and Yonghui.
As congestion continues to mount as a top problem in many of the world’s biggest cities, and as demand for modes of transportation that are faster than ground transportation and cheaper than helicopters grows, EHang is developing solutions for the last-mile problem.
For example, in the DHL-Sinotrans partnership, EHang’s Falcon UAV reduces the delivery time for five-mile trip from 40 minutes to eight minutes, leading to significant cost savings.
Earlier this year, EHang was selected by the Civil Aviation Administration of China as the country’s first and only pilot company for passenger-grade AAV programs. EHang has so far safely conducted over 1,000 test flights both inside and outside of China.