First, it was Dubai and now, Austria. Chinese Ehang Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) is set to ply the skies of Austria come 2020. The company, along with Austrian FACC aviation company and ProSiebenSat, broke the news last week at a launch event held at Vienna’s Generali Arena. Following the official launch, Ehang will be showing of its airworthy Ehang 216 air taxi at the 4GAMECHANGERS Festival, happening from April 9 to 11 in Vienna.
During the event, visitors will be able to get up close with the AAV, as well as seeing it in operation. Though, guests to the event will not be able to take to the skies as the machine is yet to be allowed to fly in Austrian airspace. However, Ehang assures that Ehang 216 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle is ready for series production. All it requires now is to complete the certification procedures. Once that is out of the way, it will only have to clear the regulatory real flight operation.
According to The Daily Star, Ehang did teased guests and media to the launch event by getting the vehicle to perform some “hops” of 30 feet within the confines of the stadium. When materialized, commuters in Vienna can expect to be traveling up to 80 mph and up to 30 minutes each time. Ehang said it has already successfully completed 7,000 flying hours, of which 2,000 were manned flights. We haven’t been keeping up with Ehang’s development, but it looks like the newly unveiled 216 is an advanced version of the original we saw a few years ago.
With the first Ehang, it has eight rotors, but with the 216, it has a whopping 16 rotors. Clearly, the performance, though not stated, should be better than the 184. Oddly though, the rotors remains uncaged as with its first model. Not sure the rationale, but I guessing it is to keep the weight down. Whatever the reason, I personally find open rotating propellers are a little too intimidating for my comfort – even though, the system ensures that propellers will stop spinning once it landed.
TBH, I never thought what companies like Ehang did was revolutionary. IMHO, they were merely super sizing drone technology to carry people, which several amateurs have already did (like this, this and a flying bathtub – just picked out a few). That is not say that it is not an achievement in aerospace. The real challenge in making a people-carrying drone is the software and logistics. Reliability is also a critical factor. Continue reading to see the 216 in action.
Source: The Daily Star.