The Chinese autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) developer EHang has unveiled the EHang 216L, a new cargo drone derived from its flagship eVTOL air taxi.
Targeted at short- to medium-haul logistics missions in both urban and rural areas, the EHang 216L will have a payload of 200 kilograms (440 pounds). Like the EHang 216 on which it is based, it is an eVTOL multicopter with eight arms and 16 independent motors and propellers.
The launch of the EHang 216L follows the recent unveiling of the EHang 216F, a variant of the model adapted for high-rise firefighting.
“We’re thrilled to unveil another new version of AAV following the EHang 216F,” stated EHang founder and CEO Hu Huazhi in a press release. “The EHang 216L will meet the demand for heavy-lift AAVs for short-to-medium-haul aerial logistics. With increasing payloads and flight ranges, aerial logistics is expected to be one of the initial commercial applications of AAVs as it has higher efficiencies but lower emissions than the conventional ground transportation.”
He noted that the EHang 216L will complement the company’s existing portfolio of small AAVs for aerial logistics, including the Falcon B and GD 2.0X.
EHang has already received approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China to use its “passenger-grade” AAV for a commercial logistics operation in Taizhou, south of Shanghai. The EHang 216L will allow the company to meet customer needs “in various aerial logistics use cases,” Hu said.
EHang follows Germany’s Volocopter in adapting a passenger-carrying eVTOL multicopter for cargo missions. Volocopter last year announced development of the VoloDrone, which is also targeting a 200-kg payload.