EHang air taxi takes off on three-venue flight tour of South Korea
Chinese air mobility company EHang has completed three test flights in South Korea to show off the passenger transport, emergency response and air tourism potential of its all-electric two-passenger autonomous aerial vehicle, the EHang 216.
After securing the first Special Certificate of Airworthiness for an autonomous air vehicle issued by the South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, EHang set off on a mini flight tour to demonstrate use case scenarios for its Urban Air Mobility solution.
Three locations were selected, all earmarked for the Ministry's plan to commercialize urban air mobility services by 2023-25. The first flight started from the "Manhattan of Seoul" – Yeouido Island – to serve as an air taxi service over a densely populated area of the capital's main financial and investment banking district.
The second test flight demonstrated the emergency response capabilities over Daegu City in the Suseong District, by delivering firefighting and medical equipment. And the final flight was used to show off the EHang 216's prowess for aerial sightseeing by taking in the coastline around Jeju Island.
The two-passenger autonomous air taxi features 16 independent rotors mounted in pairs on eight arms that surround the cabin. It can reach a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph), cruise at around the 100 km/h mark, and has a per charge flight time of 21 minutes.
The company will now work with municipalities, the Ministry and industry partners to get air taxis flying in South Korea, with Daegu City already confirming that it plans to launch aerial routes in the future, while Juju Island is looking to set aside funding to support the development of urban air mobility operations.
The Korean tour is the latest in a number of flight tests which have seen the company's autonomous air taxis take to the air in the US, Europe and of course China. And with companies like Lilium, Volocopter and others also vying for airspace, it looks like a pretty safe bet that flying passenger pods are going to be a common sight above our cities in the very near future.