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Posted on June 14, 2016

US flight testing for Ehang 184 taxi drone

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IDTechEx finds that manned drones and helicopters from the Volocopter to the planned FlyKart have only around 30 minutes endurance with current battery capabilities. Unlike winged electric aircraft, they have no area to support solar panels enhancing range by typically 30%. Their stability would be troublesome if they tried reversing of propellers during landing to gain several percent in range. Since 30 minutes range is unlikely to give the safety margin in cities they will have to fall back on noisy, polluting range extenders in our opinion not the only clean range extender the fuel cell because it is too expensive and has other problems as analysed in the IDTechEx report, Fuel Cells for Electric Vehicles 2015-2025. Yet the main potential demand is for city commuting. The saga continues with this latest story.
The Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) have executed a historic teaming agreement with EHang, Inc., a technological innovation company specializing in Research & Development, manufacturing, and sales of intelligent aerial vehicles. The agreement will provide the foundation for collaboration between NIAS and EHang in the areas of flight testing, training, and development at Nevada's FAA UAS Test Site.
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GOED and NIAS were first introduced to EHang at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show where co-founder George Yan was showcasing his company's innovative technology, including the EHang 184, an autonomous aerial vehicle capable of carrying passengers.
"The State of Nevada, through NIAS, will help guide EHang through the FAA regulatory process with the ultimate goal of achieving safe flight," said Tom Wilczek, GOED's Aerospace and Defense Industry Specialist. "EHang's selection of Nevada to test its people-carrying drone marks a thrilling addition to the innovative companies testing throughout our state to advance the commercial drone industry. I personally look forward to the day when drone taxis are part of Nevada's transportation system."
"Partnering with GOED and NIAS is a big step for EHang 184 to move forward to government regulatory approval of the unprecedented innovation in US and globally, which will lay the foundation for its commercialization and building up the aerial transportation ecosystem in the future", said Huazhi Hu, Founder and CEO of EHang.
"Through this teaming agreement, NIAS will serve as the one-stop shop for EHang as they work through the Certificate of Airworthiness process to achieve safe and reliable flight," said Dr. Chris Walaach, Director of Operations for the Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems.
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EHang expects to begin testing at the Nevada FAA UAS Test Site in 2016, and will work closely with NIAS over the coming months to work through the UAS flight requirements.
Source and top image: EHang