Will Ehang 184 Become Mass-Produced Passenger Drone? Hidden Details

JAN 07, 2022 AT 01:45 AM

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Ehang is a Chinese company that is about to make unbelievable changes in how we commute in cities and probably even between them. The brand is aimed at AAV or autonomous aerial vehicles market. Its first product was Ehang 184 – a one-person air drone that was launched in 2015 and was tested thoroughly until its official release in 2018. Today we’ll talk more about the company, its new ideas of what city taxis should look like and about Ehang 184 with its huge prospects.

There are now a lot of people who are sure that Ehang company is an investment fraud and stock market bomb. But we have evidence that Ehang has signed contracts with Dubai authorities to develop air taxi facilities and it also has contracts with many European cities. For example, recently Ehang got permission to test its aerial vehicles in long flights across Austria. Also, they have recently claimed to achieve 186 miles range with one of their new AAVs. Let’s look at both pros and cons of Ehang’s passenger drones.

What’s the Ehang 184 all about?

This is the first passenger drone developed by the company. It was first introduced in 2018, but they claimed to have been developing it since 2015. The Ehang 184 had reportedly made 40 flights with people on board up to 2018. The AAV is capable of carrying one person only. But there is another model, Ehang 216 that can carry two people and more loads.

The length of the vehicle is just 3.86 meters or 12 feet 8 inches. Its width is 5.5 meters, but you can fold the wings to make it much more compact. Developers say that Ehang 184 could take as little parking space as say an average sedan car.

Basically, it’s a huge drone that has automated flight control systems and can carry a person. There is nothing new in engineering thought, but there are a lot of technical innovations that have been implied in the model. They are still developing the project and making it better for commercial flights.

The vehicle is brought into movement by 8 2-bladed propellers and it can achieve the speed of 81 mph or about 130 km/h and even more. This is an aerial vehicle, so we better say its cruise speed is 70 knots. The service ceiling is 500 meters, but the AAV was successfully tested on higher ceilings with no problems.

The biggest trouble of the AAV is actually a range. The producer wanted to make the vehicle as light as possible by using aviation aluminum and composite materials for the body. But the battery still weighs a lot. So they needed to find some compromise between battery capacity and range. The average range of Ehang 184 is 16 kilometers (that is nearly 10 miles) and it can recharge in just under one hour.

The company has built 30 to 40 machines of this kind. But we assume, they don’t see Ehang 184 as the main product. They just used it as a way to draw investors’ attention and start developing new aerial vehicles based on these technologies.

What’s good in Ehang 216?

The 216 model is actually the same thing, but it can carry two people showing exactly the same technical specs and range. And this model is seen by the company as the prototype for the future air taxi. It’s a 2-seater and it can carry more loads, so it’s commercially more attractive than Ehang 184.

On the 27th of May, 2020 Ehang Company obtained commercial pilot operation approval for this aerial vehicle in China. Later the company received a special flight operation certificate in Canada to test Ehang 216 within Quebec.

Firefighting drones based on Ehang AAVs

Also, Ehang introduced firefighting autonomous drones that are capable to go up to 600 meters and take 160 liters of fire extinguishing liquid with it. The thing is that a firefighter will just sit in safety and control the firefighting drone with the help of VR or just remote-control equipment. It’s one of the best propositions to put up fires in skyscrapers.

Now firefighting Ehang drones are still being tested, but there is official information on the company’s website that they are developing such kinds of AAVs.

New projects out of old Ehang 184

The first passenger drone became a good basis for new technologies and ideas of how to use the AAV. Now Ehang works under several projects one of which is the Dubai Air Taxi ecosystem. Dubai authorities want to build air taxi facilities until 2025 or 2027. It will be hard, but Ehang has done a lot of work to make this happen.

Cargo drones are also one of the projects that are now probably the most prospective. Carrying loads is much safer than carrying people. And it will need less work. Ehang now works under several AAV types that will be able to carry loads autonomously without the personal control of pilots. The idea is to build a flight control center to operate thousands of flights having a dozen of computers and managers in the office. This idea is welcomed by nearly all big logistics companies, online shops, delivery services all around the world.

Intercity air taxi may be the next project of Ehang. Recently there was news about the new prototype of AAV that is capable of showing a 186-mile range. The main difference from the original Ehang 184 is in construction. The new prototype has wings to lower energy consumption in the air. It still has propellers to move the AAV and to enable vertical takeoff and landing. But the wings will make the vehicle much more comfortable and economical. Basically, it’s a kind of small plane with drone propellers. The concept name is Ehang VT-30 and we hope that the company will make it available for purchase soon.

Ehang in the US

On the 8th of January 2020, Ehang 216 conducted its first test flight in the US. The company claims that it sees the US market as the most prospective for its technologies. But it was quite hard to obtain a license for test flights. It’s still a long way to go, but at least we now know that the technology really exists and it’s being tested in different countries with the aim to start selling there.

Ehang passenger drone is almost ready for cities, but there is still a lot of test work to do. And now it all depends on investors and the stock market. And here some bad news comes.

On the 16th of February, 2021 Wolfpack Research published its report saying that Ehang is actually a big stock market fraud. The researchers claimed that the company hasn’t developed the technologies, they basically make huge drones to fly them autonomously all around the world and to raise the stock price. At some point, Ehang should close up all the projects and quickly sell the stocks to get money from the market. But not many experts agreed with the report. The Ehang company also published a report with more technical details of how their drones work and said that Wolfpack Research misinterpreted the information and had a lot of mistakes in its report. Nevertheless, Ehang stock has been experiencing its worst time since 2018, so we see that investors are concerned.

Bright future for Ehang?

The company is actually the first to claim it has a fully working and absolutely safe AAV that can soon carry loads and passengers. So we believe it may really have a bright future. But Ehang company should be afraid of competition that is now beginning to actively invest money into the technology of autonomous flights.

Airbus has been testing its Vahana aerial vehicles for some years, Beta AVA uses the same technologies to create its vehicles, Joby Aviation is ready to launch the production of AAVs. So Ehang should hurry up to be the first to actually produce the real air taxis.