IMC Newsdesk

EHang trials autonomous air service in Linz

  • September 2, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson

Chinese autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) company EHang is to run an urban air mobility (UAM) trial in Austria’s third largest city of Linz.

This will be the first trial of its kind in Europe. EHang expects to start the trial soon with its EHang 216 AAV.

Growing urban population is causing serious traffic jams in major cities around the world. Protecting the air and eliminating CO2 emissions is giving birth to UAM, a way to transport passengers or goods with autonomous aerial vehicles within or between cities.

In light of the disruptive potential of UAM, EHang established partnerships in 2019 with FACC and Linz AG, local partners with experience in urban public transportation and charging infrastructure. The three parties agreed to join hands in turning Linz into a UAM pilot city. They will conduct passenger flights and goods transportation with autonomous air taxis in urban areas.

Suitable eco-friendly electric motors and batteries with short charging times already exist. So far, stable 5G infrastructure is available to ensure real-time communication and precision for navigation during flight and landing. Next, a suitable testing route running over uninhabited areas to the vertiports will be determined within Linz. While construction is planned for 2021, trial flights are planned soon.

During the test flights, various aspects will be studied including the practicality of implementation in urban areas, acceptance by the populace and the expected positive impact on the environment. The public service aspect will also be considered, as UAM is not only about purchasing aircraft by private customers. Rather, public benefits are paramount, with a focus on integration into an overall transportation plan.

“We will implement the whole value chain that is necessary for UAM operations, as well as demonstrate passenger experience journeys as well,” said EHang CEO Huazhi Hu. “Bookings systems, boarding processes and aftermarket service questions will play a role. In the course of the end-to-end process we will also be able to learn and improve on the go. We need to start thinking about implementation today, parallel to the on-going regulatory processes as both will benefit from each other. Last but not least, we want to involve the people and let them touch, feel and experience UAM as far as possible today.”

EHang’s mission is to make safe, autonomous and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone.