While Western manufacturers are still only at the prototype stage, China’s Ehang is already producing the Ehang 216 and VT30 air taxis in full production at its Yunfui factory. More information about Ehang here.
The company has shared a video on YouTube of the factory at full capacity, with a number of assembled air taxis lined up, and a press release says that several people, including the company’s CEO, have flown in the fully automated vehicles. The company successfully tested its air taxi in Korea last year, and has also been granted test flights in Norway, Canada and other countries. In China, commercial flights have been allowed since May last year under a licence from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, but for the time being only for cargo.
Ehang currently has two models, the two-seater Ehang 216 for shorter journeys and the VT30, launched this spring, for intercity travel. This is also a two-seater, but compared to the thirty to forty kilometre range and 130 km/h speed of the Ehang 216, the VT30 can cover up to 300 kilometres in 100 minutes. The VT30 also looks more like a small aeroplane than a drone, with wings and landing gear, and only nine rotors to lift it up in the air, unlike the 16-rotor Ehang 216. Both machines are purely electrically powered and have been fitted with a number of safety mechanisms to ensure the safety of passengers.