China-based aerial passenger drone startup EHang flew its EHang 216 two-seat self-flying taxi fully autonomously in North Carolina, a first for the company both in the US and North America. EHang is currently working towards getting approval to fly with passengers on board. The startup has also delivered around 40 of its aircraft to paying customers.
This demonstration flight, which took place in Raleigh, included flying North Carolina governor Roy Cooper on board the two-seat aircraft. Eventually, EHang hopes to deploy these for use across a number of different industries, for transportation of both passengers and cargo along autonomous, short-distance routes in and around urban areas.
“Our mission is to make safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone, and this trial flight represents a significant step toward bringing our urban air mobility solutions to the U.S. market,” said Huazhi Hu, EHang founder, chairman, and CEO. “Pilotless air taxis have the power to transform everyday life in urban areas since they can lessen pollution, expedite emergency services, and save individuals and businesses time and money through shorter travel times.”
The non-passenger trial flight represents the first time that EHang received flight approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with the company hoping to receive approval for a passenger trial flight in the near future.