Rendering of EHang E-port terminal building.

Autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) company EHang Holdings Ltd. intends to build the world’s first port for AAV services with a local partner in Hezhou, Guangxi Province, China. The E-port will accelerate commercialization of EHang AAVs for tourism. The project is planned to be completed and operational near the end of 2020.

The plan includes delivery of 20 units of the EHang 216, the company’s two-seat AAV, which will be deployed for aerial sightseeing.

The E-port terminal building will be three stories covering 2,500m2. Architectural features include a first-floor reception hall, second floor passenger waiting area, and a third-floor departure/arrival zone. Four landing pads will be located on the rooftop, which can accommodate four AAV landings/take-offs simultaneously.

Diehl Aviation enters UAM market

Nikolay Kazakov for Volocopter

Diehl Aviation’s joint venture with Thales, Diehl Aerospace, will develop and produce flight control computers (FCCs) for electric air taxi manufacturer Volocopter’s upcoming VoloCity electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Diehl will provide primary and backup computers.

The contract with Volocopter marks the entry of Diehl Aviation, a supplier of cabin interiors and aircraft systems for commercial and military aircraft, into urban air mobility (UAM).

Development has started already at Diehl sites for the Volocopter work package with certification expected for 2021 and first flight and entry-into-service expected within the next two to four years.

Frost & Sullivan envisions the evolution of travel

Hyperloop, air taxis, and suborbital rockets could enable a traveler to reach any location on Earth in 60 minutes. That analysis, in Frost & Sullivan’s study, “Evolution of 3rd, 4th, and 5th Dimensions of Travel,” foretells the advent of new modes of public transportation will lead to new travel business models such as air taxis and hoverbikes in the 3rd; Hyperloop and Maglev trains in the 4th; and suborbital, orbital, and deep space travel in the 5th dimension.

Intelligent Mobility Analyst Joe Praveen Vijayakumar says companies offering new modes of transport should focus on the following growth opportunities:

  • Safety is the biggest concern for passengers who will embrace air taxi services. Companies offering new modes of transport should invest in technologies to ensure passenger safety and comfort
  • An intelligent, efficient unmanned traffic management system is required for large-scale adoption of air taxis. Organizations should invest in and collaborate with startups developing such systems.

Honeywell advances autonomous landing

Honeywell has begun in-flight testing of sensors that will guide urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles to land autonomously. Test aircraft outfitted with Honeywell sensors include cameras that analyze visual markings resembling QR codes, which help guide the vehicle to a designated landing spot. Honeywell officials say the added sensors support safer, autonomous UAM operations.

Data collection was compiled in Arizona using Honeywell’s AS350 helicopter, and additional testing is planned with Honeywell’s partners.

“Introducing numerous piloted and autonomous aircraft in dense urban environments is a real challenge in making the UAM vision achievable,” says Matt Picchetti, vice president and general manager, Navigation and Sensors, Honeywell Aerospace.

Honeywell’s data collection work will continue through 2020, with the demonstration of fully automated landings taking place within the next 12 months.