EHang has joined two European Union projects which aim to integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into urban airspaces, including one which aims to use the technology to ensure healthcare is accessible to everyone living in its member states.
The Chinese firm is the only eVTOL aircraft developer in the SAFIR-Med project, a research and innovation initiative to promote the use of unmanned aviation across the European Union.
SAFIR-Med, which stands for ‘Safe and Flexible Integration of Advanced U-Space Services for Medical Air Mobility’ has selected 17 renowned partners from eight countries and is supported by eight cross-industry advisory board members including the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and The Red Cross.
EHang will use its flagship two-seat aerial autonomous vehicle (AAV), the EH216, and its Falcon medium-sized AAV to transport medical supplies in urban environments.
The demonstrations will take place in collaboration with hospitals and medical spaces in Aachen in Germany, Antwerp in Belgium and Heerlen and Maastricht in the Netherlands. The project results will then be further demonstrated in two additional locations in Europe – Athens in Greece and Prague, Czech Republic. Prior to the operational environment demonstrations, a de-risking exercise will take place at the DronePort BVLOS test-facility in Belgium.
Within two years, the project intends to demonstrate advanced U-Space services enabling the highest possible operational safety level. These include detect-and-avoid as a service, dynamic geofencing and air traffic prioritisation rules.
Additionally, EHang is now also part of European Union’s ‘GOF 2.0 Integrated Urban Airspace Validation” project, which is a follow-up to the SESAR JU GOF U-space project and focused on developing the safe, secure, and sustainable integration of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations in urban airspace.
SESAR JU GOF 2.0 was initiated in January 2021 to demonstrate the compatibility of existing Air Traffic Management (ATM) and U-space systems and services.
The project intends to show safe integration of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), eVTOLs, and manned operations in a unified, dense urban airspace. A planned series of demonstrations in next two years will include highly automated real time separation and networks for air-ground communication.
As one of the 13 consortium members and the leading eVTOL aircraft developer, EHang is expected to ensure safe flight operations in all degrees of airspace in order to provide fair and efficient access to shared airspace.
The company aims to establish a comprehensive urban air mobility ecosystem including infrastructure, software and supporting service systems, which it says matches the mission of the GOF 2.0 project to enable cost-effective operations of autonomous and semi-autonomous UAVs Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) in shared airspace.
EHang added that it believes its AAVs will be gradually accepted for autonomous air taxi services by Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), airspace users, regulatory authorities, and ultimately the flying public.
Participation in these two project marks another milestone for EHang in Europe following two major UAM programmes – the AMU-LED project supported by the European Union and the Re.Invent Air Mobility initiative launched in the Paris Region, France.