The Chinese company EHang continues to develop its line of unmanned aerial drones. The company has now introduced the logistics version of its flagship product EHang 216 – the “EHang 216L”, for short-to-medium-haul air logistics in both urban and rural areas.
The new EHang 216L vehicle is capable of carrying up to 200 kg of the payload by air and autonomously transporting it from one point to another without direct operator control. The flight range is not specified in the press release, but, taking into account previous developments, it is possible to deliver cargo over distances of about 40-50 km.
The EHang 216L employs a fully redundant safety design and particularly, a distributed electric propulsion configuration consisting of 8 arms and 16 independent motors and propellers. Such a motor-rotary scheme provides sufficient redundancy in the event of a failure of part of the electric motors or part of the power (battery) installation. There is no passenger cabin, which made it possible to increase the space in the cargo compartment.
The passenger version of the EHang 216, with a carrying capacity of 220 kg, carries cargo over a distance of 30-40 km (16-22 miles) at a speed of up to 130 km/h (81 mph). Like the passenger version, the cargo one can fly completely autonomously along a given route, and the operators will only monitor the state of the flight.
For transportation in urban conditions, the weight of 200 kg is insignificant, but the drone can be in demand for transporting something urgently needed in conditions of an acute shortage of time since air delivery can be performed in a straight line in the shortest possible time. Cargo drones will be especially in demand in mountains and rough terrain with unpredictable roads, along which even short distances in difficult meteorological conditions are often covered for hours.