EHang announced this week it is joining Ambular, an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) staff effort to develop an eVTOL air ambulance.
The Chinese autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) developer plans to contribute hardware including motors and rotors to the project, facilitating research and development of the power component of the aircraft. EHang said it can also help accelerate the project by sharing insights from its own experience in using AAVs for emergency response. For example, earlier this year, EHang demonstrated the use of an EHang 216 to transport medical supplies to a hospital in Hezhou city, China.
“We are excited to join the ICAO-supported Ambular project, where we can work with industry leaders to fulfill the mission of ‘saving critical minutes’ in emergencies,” EHang founder and CEO Huazhi Hu stated in a press release. “This can demonstrate the great value of UAM [urban air mobility] to society. We see that UAM has the potential to materially improve transportation and have a positive impact on peoples’ lives.”
According to its website, the Ambular project grew out of a 2017 ICAO think tank exploring the future of aviation, led by the engineer and futurist Charles Bombardier. Bombardier and ICAO staff conceived an eVTOL that could rapidly transport patients to a hospital from the scene of a medical emergency, but realized they needed to do more research to understand what it would take to bring their concept to fruition.
The volunteer-led Ambular effort was launched to conduct that research by actually building a quarter-scale, fully functional prototype.
“It is imperative that those who set the international standards and recommended practices in aviation understand the methods, problems, risks and any other aspects that those who build the future of the sector experience when going through the realization process,” the Ambular team explained in an article published earlier this year.
The team expressed the hope that its effort will “serve as inspiration for ICAO colleagues and the wider aviation community,” as well as “a learning tool as the team engages in the process of figuring out how to unleash the potential of eVTOLs on improving peoples’ quality of life.”
Other Ambular partners include Concordia University’s Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s CASRI research institute, and Bombardier’s Imaginactive organization.