EHang has successfully demonstrated the suitability of its autonomous aerial vehicles (AAV) when transporting emergency medical supplies and personnel, as part of China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

As part of exercises organised by local authorities in February to prevent and control the virus, Ehang’s unmanned two-seater AAV travelled four kilometres from Hezhou Square to Hezhou’s People Hospital, landing on a 25-storey rooftop before automatically returning after the delivery.

Edward Xu, EHang’s Chief Strategy Officer, was also a passenger in a 4km autonomous flight from Hezhou City Centre and landed safely on the rooftop of the hospital, as part of a series of urban passenger-carrying flights.

Mr Xu said: “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. In urban emergency situations, this enables people or goods to be transported efficiently across the city in nearly straight-line routes. 

“More importantly, as a passenger, I was free to enjoy my tea and urban scenery during the whole flight as everything was automatically piloted. Such successful flights 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 applications.”

The success of the trial opens up the potential for more vehicles to be used when transporting medical supplies to hospitals, which is currently being done via ambulances and helicopters.

EHang has said its AAVs can cover the radius of Hezhou, said to be about 15km, and have a cruising speed of up to 90km/h. The company added transport missions could also be undertaken at night.