Aircraft

eHang flexes its fully operational eVTOL production facility in new video

eHang flexes its fully operati...
China's eHang has released video of its Yunfu eVTOL production facility that will turn out its eVTOL air taxis
China's eHang has released video of its Yunfu eVTOL production facility that will turn out its eVTOL air taxis
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China's eHang has released video of its Yunfu eVTOL production facility that will turn out its eVTOL air taxis
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China's eHang has released video of its Yunfu eVTOL production facility that will turn out its eVTOL air taxis
eHang's Yunfu eVTOL production facility
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eHang's Yunfu eVTOL production facility
EHang's new lift-and-cruise VT30 puts a serious long-range air taxi in the company's portfolio
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EHang's new lift-and-cruise VT30 puts a serious long-range air taxi in the company's portfolio
The aerial sightseeing trial is open to residents of the Forest Lake project in the popular tourist destination of Zhaoqing city in southern 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 southern China
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In the eVTOL air taxi world, eHang is an outlier. Where most operations are painstakingly doing thousands of unmanned flight tests, eHang is merrily flying people around, including its own CEO and even members of the public – and in autonomous mode, no less – a stark contrast to nearly every other major company, which will start out as piloted services. Where others are dotting every i and crossing every t to ensure they can attain commercial certification in multiple markets, eHang is going into production before anyone's got certification anywhere.

There's a bit of a space race going on here, folks. The US in particular is not at all happy that it missed the boat on the consumer drone revolution and let China establish absolute dominance through its phenomenally successful DJI company.

Every new technology frontier is now seen as a matter of national security, thanks to China's "unrestricted warfare" doctrine, in which all state assets, including technology products, are considered as strategic military assets. This concern underpins much of the kerfuffle around TikTok, the Belt and Road initiative, and Huawei's 5G infrastructure, and it's easy to see why the US military is uncomfortable about the idea of millions of DJI drones capable of broadcasting high-definition video being out in the wild if and when things kick off in a conflict.

EHang's new lift-and-cruise VT30 puts a serious long-range air taxi in the company's portfolio
EHang's new lift-and-cruise VT30 puts a serious long-range air taxi in the company's portfolio

Hence, if there are going to be eVTOL air taxis whizzing around above our cities, America wants them to be American ones, using American technology, that can't be weaponized in some dystopian cyber warfare scenario. That's the thinking behind Agility Prime, the US Air Force program that's providing a lot of early funding and testing opportunities to American eVTOL companies.

But China appears to be deploying an interesting and unexpected trump card in the eVTOL race: it seems to be letting eHang get going on things much earlier than the rest of the world. Regular manned flights, full-scale production and autonomous flight seem years away for the West's eVTOL leaders, but China can set its own agenda with domestic aviation laws, and eHang is taking full advantage of the leeway it's been given as it works toward full Chinese certification.

So today we see video of what we believe to be the world's first eVTOL air taxi production facility in operation: a 24,000-sq-m (5.9-acre) manufacturing plant in Yunfu pounding out two-seat autonomous 216 multicopters and longer-range VT30 autonomous lift and cruise aircraft at an unspecified rate.

eHang's Yunfu eVTOL production facility
eHang's Yunfu eVTOL production facility

We see components being milled, carbon shells being laid, things going into giant pressure chambers, buttons being pushed, bodywork being painted, propulsion systems being assembled and tested. To a large extent, this video is more about investor relations than anything else, but it's still pretty crazy to watch.

Will this accelerated timeframe give China the edge in the emerging UAV market? Well, it'll certainly give it a wealth of data to work with, but eHang won't be flying air taxis in Europe or America until they're fully FAA/EASA certified, just like anyone else. So it's an interesting little situation to keep an eye on.

Check out the video below.

EHang Yunfu Production Facility in Operation

Source: eHang

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6 comments
6 comments
czechster
How will they keep from slicing and dicing people with those props?
Towerman
Excellent Let EHANG SHOW the world how its done ! ! ! Because western/eu regulations are stuck in the stone age ! ! And will be for a long time to come.

Ehang leads by forward thinking and full implementation because they have confidence in their machines and SO do i ! ! !

One thing though EVTOL'S will never be pilotless, there will always be a dedicated fully certified drone pilot in the control room for each and every flight, so although the evtol can fly itself, there will always be a skilled pilot overseeing each flight.

@czechster And old "debunked" question. No need to, unlike ICE propellers on aircraft which is certified for use where many people have lost hands and arms in the past the propellers on an EVTOL stop instantly ;)
They are doing commercial flights with Ehang everyday ;)
Bernd1991
This article reads more like a blog about the rivalry and potential conflict between the US and China.
Regardless, I think your thoughts about US and China are very interesting.
David
Providing the Chinese confine their new e-planes within Chinese airspace, and with the Chinese internal market being huge, international certification is not an issue for now. eHang and others can prove the eVTOL technologies are safe and commercially viable long before other nations get to market.
Towerman
Part of it does have that ring to it bernd1991 indeed.

The US does have one outstanding competitor to DJI.
Skydio2
As far as i know the military has taken them under their wing.

So consumers are likely to get their second grade drone systems from now on unfortunately. But the Skydio 2 was a game changer in optical navigation.

Which is their consumer drone.

The Skydio 2 was made with a visionary obstacle avoidance system that was revolutionary, and no rival could match it, much better thanf DJI's.
bwana4swahili
"eHang is going into production before anyone's got certification anywhere." While the rest of world is bogged down in red tape!

The reason China is a world leader. DJI and eHang are great examples with many more to come.