Aircraft

EHang begins aerial sightseeing trial at south China real estate project

EHang begins aerial sightseein...
The aerial sightseeing trial is open to residents of the Forest Lake project in the popular tourist destination of Zhaoqing city in south China
The aerial sightseeing trial is open to residents of the Forest Lake project in the popular tourist destination of Zhaoqing city in south China
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The aerial sightseeing trial is open to residents of the Forest Lake project in the popular tourist destination of Zhaoqing city in south China
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The aerial sightseeing trial is open to residents of the Forest Lake project in the popular tourist destination of Zhaoqing city in south China

China's air mobility company EHang has added another location to its autonomous air taxi roster with the launch of an aerial sightseeing trial in partnership with real estate company Greenland Hong Kong.

Initially, the service trial involving EHang's two-passenger autonomous aerial vehicle will take place at Greenland's tourism real estate project in the city of Zhaoqing, in the Guangdong Province of south China.

EHang will operate a flight base in the Forest Lake project, which is located in an area that includes seven natural lakes and wetlands spread over 3 million square meters (over 32 million sq ft), and is quite close to a new airport that's under construction – the Zhaoqing-Pearl River Delta-Hub Airport.

Local residents will be offered the chance to view the area from above. The video below gives an idea of what to expect.

EHang Launches Aerial Tourism Services with Strategic Partner Greenland Hong Kong

Pitched as being cleaner, quieter and safer than single-propeller helicopters, the EH216 features 16 independent rotors mounted in pairs around the passenger cabin. It can currently reach a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph) and can stay aloft for 21 minutes between charges.

Both companies intend to open up low-altitude aerial sightseeing services in other cities moving forward, while EHang continues its rollout of global trials that have seen test flights undertaken in the US, South Korea, Dubai and Europe.

Source: EHang

10 comments
10 comments
guzmanchinky
Vary cool. Not sure how much I trust Chinese attention to safety, but they are definitely ahead of everyone else as far as real people in real machines...
christopher
LOL - safer than a helicopter eh? Show me one of these auto-rotating to a safe power-off landing then!

It amazes me just how completely stupid so many aviation enthusiasts really are - we live in such a safe padded world now, that even the mere thought of recovery-from-failure never even enters their mind.

That will be over soon - with a mere 21 minutes, plus 16 props, 16 motors, 16 ESCs, at least one BMS, 3 or more sets of accelemetry hardware, one or more controllers, and a no-fear stupid human pilot at the controls - it's going to be no-time-at-all before one of these falls from the sky killing everyone on board as well as all the unlucky suckers on the ground underneath. That's VASTLY too much tech for it ever to be aviation-quality reliable.

That's the problem with humanity - we tend to only learn from other people's mistakes - learning from absolutely foreseeable catastrophes isn't in our collective intelligence...
Graeme S
Well said Christopher!
Martin Geldart
I disagree with Christoper's comment. Just because this craft cannot 'autorotate to a safe power-off landing' like a helicopter does not make it unsafe and stupid.

To be able to autorotate, you need a freely-moving rotor with undamaged blades and linkages (not always the case), plus plenty of airspeed, space, sometimes altitude, and a conscious, calm and well-trained pilot.

In a helicopter, you would perform an autorotation if your vehicle's *one and only main rotor* stopped working i.e. engine failure. In this multi-rotor vehicle, you can have multiple engine failures and still fly, hover and land safely - vertically in fact - and you don't need a pilot onboard to do so.

I'm not sure about this particular craft but the majority of these new multi-rotor vehicles come equipped with ballistic parachutes in case of full failure, something a helicopter doesn't have. And If I was going to perform an emergency landing with impact, I'd rather do it in an electric vehicle than a helicopter carrying a tonne of flammable liquid.

According to a 2016 study, 33% of helicopter crashes are due to human violations, 38% operational errors, 22% system failure and 7% other. This multi-rotor craft can eliminate the high probability of human error because they don't actually need a 'no-fear stupid human pilot at the controls' as Christoper over-dramatically described and they have numerous anti-collision systems and sensors.

The fact Christopher thinks 'recovery-from-failure never even enters their mind' shows a lot of ignorance and a lack of knowledge and understanding. Any kind of research into this craft/company will show that recover from failure has been at the forefront of their design process since the beginning.
dotyman
Seems totally idiotic to place all the open rotating blades at knee/waist height. Are they waiting for the first human to trip and fall into those meat processors in order to consider all the other, safer options? What are they thinking? Remember User Error in design? It's not IF, it's WHEN it will happen!

guzmanchinky
I have to agree with Martin, the ability to add a BRS (parachute) is easy, the complexity of electric drives is 1000x less than any helicopter, and the self stabilization that even a cheap drone has these days makes flying it by hand a no brainer compared to the mess that is a normal helicopter.
The argument is completely pointless, however, as this new tech is completely inevitable, and once energy storage catches up will relegate the helicopter (amazing and useful as it is/was) to museum pieces. Someday we will look at their complexity and skill required and marvel that we used to be so daring, much the same way we do with WW2 and WW1 aircraft today...
guzmanchinky
Dotyman, you do realize the those rotors stop in less than a second, right? I'm guessing there is a simple door interlock as well. Now if someone runs up to the machine while the props are spinning, then yes, big problem. I do think they should be mounted higher up (like a regular drone), but the engineers are smarter than I am. I wonder if maybe they simply stop the instant the machine touches the ground?
Towerman
@christopher: Yet another one of the dumbest comments i've seen, Auto rotation is a hit or miss son, if i could publish accident statistics on this short section the site would break. Safe padded world ?? LOL which fairy tale do you live in son ? You cal screaming supercars, and death defying superbikes SAFE ? You call a helicopter with ZERO redundancy other than uncertainty when it comes to auto rotation SAFE and PADDED ? How about losing a tailrotor you think its SAFE ? Man you have a very shallow and un educated view and understanding of multicopters, there is and over abundance of redundancies on absolutelty EVERY level. In not ONE instance have EHANG shown any problems with their public demonstrations so far. Range will only increase with time, that is GREAT ! GO EHANG GO ! ! !
Arcticshade
@Graeme S : Another clueless and mindless comment, Well done ehang, some clowns on here needs to go to school first.
Arcticshade
@dotyman, wake up or get educated, don't let me start listing all the accidents that happened with CERTIFIED aircraft IE people getting chopped up in helicopter tailblades, sucked into turbine engines and come mincemeat out at the back end, chopped up arms and legs in front of propeller aircraft. MULTIrotors have the advantage of instant blade stop, So THEY should be much, MUCH more easier to certify !