You know that saying, “The future is now?” Well, it is. Chinese manufacturer EHang has announced it will build a new factory with a single purpose: To build and test passenger-carrying drones that are undoubtedly coming to a city near you within — we speculate — about five years.
EHang is on the move. Just a day ago, it announced that it would be testing its EHang 216 Aerial Autonomous Vehicle in Quebec, Canada. This follows on the heels of it flying sightseers during a test inside China. And it’s a signal that EHang anticipates its autonomous passenger-carrying drones will soon be in demand. It’s likely that they will begin routine flights first in China, since that’s where much of the testing has been taking place, and then spread elsewhere. Regardless of which countries are the early adopters, EHang is clearly gearing up for anticipated demand.
A new factory
The new factory will be built in the southern Guangdong province. The planned initial capacity of the new factory is 600 units annually. The facility will cost $6 million, with local government covering some of that amount.
“The EHang Yunfu facility is aimed to be established as an industry-leading AAV production center, including an R&D facility for air mobility solutions and a training center for operations and technical talents,” reads EHang’s news release. It also included this quote from the company’s Founder and CEO, Huazhi Hu:
The increasing market demands and commercialization of AAVs in China are driving us to expand our production and upgrade our manufacturing capabilities. The EHang Yunfu facility serves as an expansion of our existing facility and will support the growth of our air mobility business in China.Huazhi Hu, EHang CEO/Founder
The next big thing
There’s a lot of buzz about drone deliveries, but we believe people deliveries will play a huge role in the future. The EHang can carry two people together weighing up to 220Kg. The EHang AAV 216 passenger-carrying drone can fly up to 30+ km between charges. But these vehicles are more likely to be used for short hops within and over congested cities. You could also easily envision a future where these carry medical patients as an autonomous air ambulance.
EHang describes itself as “the world’s leading autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology platform company.”
Our mission is to make safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone. EHang provides customers in various industries with AAV products and commercial solutions: air mobility (including passenger transportation and logistics), smart city management, and aerial media solutions. As the forerunner of cutting-edge AAV technologies and commercial solutions in the global Urban Air Mobility (UAM) industry, EHang continues to explore the boundaries of the sky to make flying technologies benefit our life in smart cities.EHang News release
We’d like to book a flight
If you’re listening, EHang, we’ve been following your progress since you first announced plans for a passenger-carrying drone. We think you’ve got an awesome platform. We’d also be thrilled to go for a spin. So once Transport Canada gives you another SFOC — this one for flying with people — give us a call. We’ll supply a passenger who would be ecstatic not only to go for a flight, but to write about it.