EHang announces plans for tree-inspired Italian vertiport
Although we may like to imagine "air taxis" picking us up wherever we want, the fact is they will likely be limited to specific landing locations. With that in mind, Chinese air mobility company EHang has announced plans for a "vertiport" in Italy.
Currently the subject of a stock market controversy, EHang is developing an eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle that should be capable of picking up either one or two passengers – depending on the model – then autonomously flying them to their destination. To the company's credit, it has reportedly already delivered 40 functioning air taxis to customers for testing, training and demonstration purposes.
The just-announced vertiport is being designed in partnership with Italian architecture firm Giancarlo Zema Design Group (GZDG), as part of EHang's efforts to build its presence within the European Union market. Inspired by the African baobab tree, the structure will take the form a 30-meter-tall (98-ft) tower constructed of steel and laminated wood.
Passengers will take an elevator to the takeoff and landing platform on the roof terrace. Immediately below that terrace will be a waiting room and a 200 sq m (2,153 sq ft) panoramic restaurant.
Additionally, plans call for an array of photovoltaic panels to generate over 300 kilowatts of power per day – some of this will go to three independent plug-and-play charging stations, for use by the two-passenger EH216 eVTOLs landing on the roof.
It should be noted that while EHang is aiming its vehicles mainly at use within urban centers, the vertiport is being designed with the eco-tourism industry in mind – air taxis will pick passengers up at the tower, then take them on sightseeing tours of the surrounding countryside. The exact location of the Italian vertiport has yet to be announced, but the company states that additional structures are planned for other places in Europe and Southeast Asia.