EHang flies between islands for the first time in Japan
For the first time since they entered into Japan, autonomous aerial vehicle maker EHang have seen their passenger drone fly between two islands.
The company has just announced its flagship autonomous electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger drone, the EHang EH216 successfully completed island-hopping flights between Iheya Island and Noho Island in Okinawa.
The two islands are 8,5km apart.
The flight demonstration was carried out in collaboration with EHang’s Japanese partner AirX, with the approval of the country’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).
“Between Iheya island and Noho island, the flights mark Japan’s first island-hopping flights of an autonomous eVTOL,” the company said.
“Besides, the EH216-S conducted vertical take-off and landing, circled flight over the ground and sea, to measure the impact of air mobility operations to environment and obtain data to support vertiport maintenance.
“These island-hopping flights also mark the first flights after EHang was inducted as a member of Japan’s Public-Private Committee for Advanced Air Mobility this April. We continue to contribute our industry-leading expertise in Autonomous Aerial Vehicle technology to promoting the AAM ecosystem for safe eVTOL aircraft operations in Japan.”
There are many islands in Okinawa and EHang, its partner AirX and other local stakeholders see an opportunity in using drone technology to connect these islands. Besides, the drones can also be of use for evacuations during emergencies, for sightseeing, as well as general transportation.
EHang has revealed that AirX has already been locked in discussions with local operators the Okinawa government on the areas in which they can put drones to good use.
“(The EHang’s EH216) does not require a large landing facility like a helicopter, and it would be a revolution in air transportation,” said Takeya Hirano, General Manager of the Planning and Development Department of Japan Airport Consulting.
“It would help in promoting the innovation of aerial tourism in the near future.”
Okinawa is the seventh Japanese city where EHang has flown with Japan itself being one of the thirteen countries in the world where EHang drones have flown.
Earlier this week, autonomous passenger eVTOL aircraft EH216 of EHang took off in Israel for the first time, as part of the Israel National Drone Initiative (INDI), a government program designed to test the feasibility of integrating drone technology as part of public transportation in the country.