Your Flying Taxi Just Arrived
|Courtesy: EHang - Vienna Test Flight|
It looks like a helicopter at first glance. But it's a lot more than that. This is the first demonstration of this pilotless air taxi prototype that just successfully took off in Vienna, Austria. The Austrian and Chinese developers say it's ready for mass production and commuter service. The EHang 216 is at the forefront of autonomous air taxis readying for takeoff.
It's the creation of Austrian aerospace company FACC (now owned by Chinese aerospace group AVIC) and the Chinese drone maker company EHang. It's a European first for them. The vehicle circled in the air and landed safely after a few minutes of flying above a soccer stadium.
Rigorously Tested and Ready for Flying
This is a slim drone with 16 propellers. It can seat two passengers, fly up to 90 mph for a half hour. And, it can travel 50 to 70 kilometers depending on the payload. The Austrian-Chinese partners say they are ready to take passengers on air-taxi commutes. Government aviation authorities need to grant necessary approvals first. That's the only obstacle facing the EHang 216. Interestingly, Austria supports international efforts to establish guidelines quickly.
Lots of Orders
FACC says it has several thousand orders for the $336,000 vehicle. It's designed for short-haul flights for passengers, industrial equipment and urgent medical deliveries. Competitors in the air taxi industry include Uber and the giant aerospace company Airbus.