Mark our words: The day will come when unmanned aircraft systems routinely shuttle passengers and goods across the skylines of our cities. What’s more, EHang is likely to be one of the companies at the forefront.

It didn’t take us long to embrace Uber and Lyft, where a simple app can summon a vehicle to our location. Now imagine a future where you might call on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to come and pick you up; a redundant quadcopter that lands at a designated point. As you approach with your phone, the cockpit door unlocks and you slide in. Once your seatbelt is fastened, your destination is confirmed. And then the drone ascends, shuttling you high above the congested traffic below. In just a few minutes, you’ve landed at your destination.

It’s coming.

‘UAM’

The concept of Urban Air Mobility, or UAM, is pretty simple: Use aerial drones to move some of the goods and people normally moved via ground transport. Chinese company EHang has been a visionary in this field, and has recently expanded its testing.

The EHang 216, along with some specs…

The company says it recently completed flights in three locations in South Korea: Seoul, Daegu, and Jeju Island. “This flight tour signifies the starting point to explore the UAM market in Korea,” says its news release.

During the flight tour, EHang brought the world’s leading UAM solution to Korea, including passenger transportation, emergency medical service and aerial sightseeing. In Seoul, EHang 216 took off from Yeouido Island in downtown to have an autonomous flight over a densely populated area. The second flight was done in Suseong District, Daegu City, to deliver a package containing a 119 fire emergency kit and AED materials. The last flight was done in Jeju Island, EHang 216 flew over the coastline to demonstrate the real use case of aerial sightseeing.

Some of the tests involved goods delivery. Photo courtesy EHang

Special Certificate

The company first obtained a Special Certificate of Airworthiness from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in June. EHang wants to roll out Urban Air Mobility in South Korea between 2023 and 2025. The firm calls its model 216 drone a “two-seater, passenger-grade autonomous aerial vehicle,” or AAV. It considers these flights as the “starting point” toward its eventual planned deployment in South Korea.

During the flight tour, EHang brought the world’s leading UAM solution to Korea, including passenger transportation, emergency medical service, and aerial sightseeing. In Seoul, EHang 216 took off from Yeouido Island in downtown to have an autonomous flight over a densely populated area. The second flight was done in Suseong District, Daegu City, to deliver a package containing a 119 fire emergency kit and AED materials. The last flight was done in Jeju Island, EHang 216 flew over the coastline to demonstrate the real use case of aerial sightseeing.

Video

EHang also released a video with highlights from the flights:

EHang’s trio of Autonomous Aerial Vehicle flights in South Korea

“To tackle the traffic congestion, we will try our best to develop UAM and turn it into a new engine for our economic development,” said Kim Dae-Gweon, mayor of Suseong District in Daegu city.

Canadian connection

EHang is also testing its passenger drone at a special UAV facility in Quebec, Canada.

That is one cool drone…

Any drone that will carry people must have multiple redundancies and be held to the same stringent technical standards as manned aircraft.

We look forward to one day being able to hail an autonomous UAV, as part of an Urban Air Mobility future.

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