The Chinese autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) developer EHang is demonstrating the use of its eVTOL aircraft for transport of medical supplies and personnel as part of China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
EHang on Feb. 25 announced its participation in recent exercises organized by the local authorities of Hezhou city, Guangxi province, for the prevention and control of the coronavirus’s spread.
In one demonstration, an uncrewed EHang 216 successfully transported medical supplies from Hezhou Square in to the 25-story rooftop of Hezhou People’s Hospital, four kilometers (2.5 miles) away. The aircraft then automatically returned to its starting point.
In another, EHang’s chief strategy officer, Edward Xu, boarded the two-seat, “passenger-grade” AAV for the four-kilometer autonomous flight from the city center and landed safely on the rooftop of the hospital. This showed how the vehicles could be used as an alternative to ground ambulances or helicopters for rapidly transporting medical personnel in emergency situations.
“Personally, I’m proud to be one of the passengers to take the initial autonomous flights for medical emergency transport, and enjoyed the safe, fast, and smooth journey,” Xu stated in a press release. “In urban emergency situations, this enables people or goods to be transported efficiently across the city in nearly straight-line routes.”
EHang said its vehicles have a range adequate to cover the radius of Hezhou (15 km or 9.3 miles) with a cruising speed as high as 90 km/h (56 mph). The company indicated its medical transport missions could also be performed at night.
According to Xu, the coronavirus trials “have demonstrated EHang’s capabilities in delivering safe and high-quality AAVs to meet mission-critical demands in real life. We will continue to implement more UAM [urban air mobility] applications.”