China has recently approved the world’s first passenger-carrying flying taxi, the EH216-S, a two-seater electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft made by EHang, a Chinese autonomous air mobility company. The EH216-S is expected to be operational by 2024.
The EH216-S resembles a scaled-up consumer drone with a passenger bubble mounted on top. It is powered by 16 small rotors, mounted on the tips of eight arms that fold away when the vehicle is not in use, allowing it to park in small spaces. The aircraft has been cleared to fly without a pilot on board and has already conducted more than 40,000 test flights, including with volunteer passengers in 18 cities across China.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) awarded a “type certificate” to the EH216-S after subjecting it to rigorous testing, including structural analysis, crash tests, and flight tests to ensure its safety. EHang has already set up a factory to produce the aircraft at scale and hopes sightseeing flights in Guangdong could begin before the end of the year.
The EH216-S is a significant development in the field of autonomous air transportation. It has the potential to revolutionize the way we travel and could be a game-changer for urban mobility. The flying taxi is expected to offer a range of about 30km and a speed of up to 130kph. EHang is developing a second version, the VT30, with a range of 300km. The company believes its eVTOLs will one day be able to offer taxi rides at a similar price to terrestrial cabs.
In addition to its potential to revolutionize transportation, the EH216-S is also an environmentally friendly mode of travel. It is an electric vehicle that produces zero emissions, making it an attractive option for those who are environmentally conscious. The flying taxi could also help reduce traffic congestion in cities, which is a major problem in many urban areas around the world.
However, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed before autonomous air taxis become a common sight in our skies. One of the biggest challenges is safety. Autonomous air taxis will need to be equipped with advanced safety features to ensure that they are safe for passengers and other aircraft in the sky. Another challenge is regulation. Governments around the world will need to develop regulations that ensure the safe operation of autonomous air taxis.
- The EH216-S has a maximum payload of 600 pounds, which includes the weight of two passengers and their luggage.
- The aircraft is equipped with a variety of safety features, including a redundant flight control system, multiple batteries, and a parachute.
- EHang is developing a network of vertiports, or landing pads, for its flying taxis. The company plans to have over 200 vertiports in operation in China by 2025.
- EHang is also developing a software platform that will manage the operation of its flying taxis. The platform will track the location of each aircraft and dispatch it to passengers on demand.
The EH216-S is a significant development in the field of autonomous air transportation. It has the potential to revolutionize the way we travel and could be a game-changer for urban mobility. EHang’s plans to begin sightseeing flights in Guangdong before the end of the year are a major step forward for the company and for the autonomous air taxi industry as a whole.