Spain’s National Police force is going big on drone deployment in its law enforcement activities, and has announced the introduction of EHang’s EH216 automated passenger vehicle to its fleet of smaller UAV.
The Chinese air taxi developer is no stranger to the Iberian Peninsula, where the company has been in contact with a range of partners to study the potential launch of its craft for private passenger transport and use by public administrations. Just under a year ago, EHang revealed it joined up with Spain’s National Police to examine ways the EH216 could be deployed in official security missions and in responding to emergencies. That joint work has now borne fruit.
Read: EHang reveals AAV exploratory partnership with Spain’s police
Late last week the National Police announced the EHang it acquired last October had successfully completed Spain’s full battery of research, development, and innovation tests, and was preparing for entry into service. The force, which has used a variety of smaller and medium-sized UAVs in its work, dubbed its EH216 the “megadrone” in a tweet welcoming it into operation.
“It’s already flying!” the Friday tweet cheered, accompanied by a video of the EHang drone decked out in the colors of Spain’s National Police. “@ehang’s autonomous aerial vehicle has made its first flight in #Spain. This #EH216 #drone is part of the @policia Aerial Media Service and has successfully passed all test flights. Welcome #Megadrone #SomosTuPolicía.”
Despite the announcement, it’s still unclear whether the Nation Police’s EHang craft will be able to begin routine operation in Spain, which like most countries is still laying foundations for low altitude next generation flight, including the adoption of uncrewed air traffic systems. When it does, the force says it plans to use the EH216 as emission-free transportation of personnel to various sites, including places larger helicopters can’t reach.
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The National Police says it also expects to use the autonomous drone to spirit supplies and equipment in response to emergency situations without human occupants, and in potential deployment to nuclear, radiological, biological, or chemical accident scenarios.
Although shots from inside the cockpit were included in the video portion of Spain’s National Police tweet, its airborne EHang EH216 – not surprisingly – appeared to be flying without passengers over a variety of localities in the footage.