Autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology platform company EHang announced that it has selected Guangzhou, China as its first urban air mobility (UAM) pilot city, globally, for establishment of a low-altitude aviation transportation network that shuttles passengers and goods in a safe, fast, environmentally friendly, cost-efficient, and intelligent way.
As part of the pilot program, EHang will help the Guangzhou government set up a command-and-control center to ensure that multiple AAVs flying simultaneously in the city can remain in the air in a safe and efficient manner and can swiftly respond to emergencies. The company also intends to help the city develop the basic infrastructure to support urban air mobility, including by designing safety rules and market entry thresholds.
On the passenger front, EHang plans to use the pilot program in Guangzhou to test more flight routes and vertiports based on practical application scenarios before moving into commercial operations.
The company also plans to work with more partners to expand the operations to cover more areas in Guangzhou and transport a wider variety of high-value, low-weight goods, including blood and organs for emergency medical use.
Hu Huazhi, EHang's Founder, Chairman, and CEO, said, "We are very excited about exploring the various meaningful ways in which AAVs can solve some of the stressors our congested cities face. We are in conversations with other cities, not just in China, to develop safe, efficient, and affordable autonomous air transportation."
EHang has already conducted commercial operations in air cargo transportation over the past two years in and near its home base in Guangzhou, working with leading express delivery company DHL-Sinotrans and retail company Yonghui.
The Guangzhou launch builds on EHang's successful achievement of several milestones in the UAM space since its passenger-grade AAV was introduced at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
In January 2019, EHang was chosen by the Civil Aviation Administration of China as the country's first and only pilot company for passenger AAV development. Its AAV took its first global public pre-programmed flights carrying a total of 17 passengers in successive flights in Vienna in April.
To date, EHang has safely conducted over 2000 flight tests both inside and outside of China to ensure that AVVs operate safely, even in harsh weather conditions.