eVTOL to be used as ambulances in the coronavirus crisis
It will take months to figure the extent of the catastrophic Coronavirus outbreak. To help fight off the Covid-19 epidemic, eHang is lending its eVTOL for medical relief.
EHang’s autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) electric vertical takeoff & landing (eVTOL) aircraft are coming in handy. The company’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) applications are helping Chinese medical relief combat the coronavirus outbreak.
The local government in Hezhou, Guangxi province are tackling control of the epidemic outbreak using the eHang 216. The AAVsuccessfully transported medical supplies to a local hospital 4 kilometres away (~2.5 miles). After this, the autonomous aircraft returned to its home base.
Understanding eHang’s eVTOL naming convention
EHang names its AAVs according to their configuration. The eHang 216 is a two-seater with eight arms. It has 16 independent propellers and 16 independent motors mounted on eight arms. In 2017, the company conducted manned and unmanned flights in China. It was officially announced as of February 2018. And just to add to the flavour, there is an eHang 116. It is a one passenger eVTOL with 16 independent propellers and 16 independent motors mounted on eight (8) arms. Simple, no? More to follow on eHang’s eVTOLs.
According to eVTOL.com, the EHang 216 is capable of lifting a full payload of 140 kg (309 lbs). Its maximum range is 31 km (19 miles). The autopilot can be activated in emergency situations. To do this it carries a communication system, battery management system, safety management, and aircraft lighting developed by EHang. The operating system is secured with data-encryption and back-ups.
EHang eVTOL ground control to Major Tom
EHang offers a ground system called the Command and Control Center. It includes a handheld, computer-based control unit, charging equipment, and its Smart Cities system. The Command and Control Center can take control of the aircraft manually if necessary. The flight control system relies on sensors including accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetic compass, barometers, visual sensors, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), and millimetre-wave radars.
Using these systems, they can then make intelligent navigation decisions, correct flight paths, adapt to weather conditions and avoid obstacles, according to EHang.
EVTOLs role in medical emergencies
One of eVTOL’s many future crucial roles is that of medical relief. EVTOLs and drones take off faster and land in tighter spots than helicopters. The inherent electric efficiency and lower noise signature make them perfect for urban environments. EVTOLS are perfect for natural disaster relief. They lend themselves very well to fires, storms, and flood relief. After this medical relief exercise, EHang says it is looking closer into AAVs for urgent medical emergency transport.
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