EHang is introducing another version of its all-electric 216 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) that it says will be effective for a variety of logistics operations in urban and rural areas. The 216L model, which the Chinese company announced on September 30, will have a payload of 200 kg (441 pounds). In place of the passenger-carrying version of 216’s two-seat cabin, it features a cargo pod.
The 216L employs the same set of 16 propellers on eight arms as both the original 216 air taxi model and the new 216F firefighting version announced at the end of July. However, these are mounted above the cargo pod, while on the other models they are positioned below the fuselage.
According to the company, the 216L will be cost-effective in roles such as transporting light agricultural products, delivering supplies and samples to offshore oil rigs, and moving supplies around large shipping ports. EHang also expects to see demand from emergency-support and disaster-relief organizations.
The 216L’s payload is 20 kg (44 lb) less than that of the original 216, which earlier this year was used for some trial operations carrying supplies for a Chinese hotel group. The 216F model has enough capacity for 570 gallons of fire-suppressing foam. The 216L’s cargo pod has double doors at the rear for easier loading and unloading.
EHang says that the 216L will be used for “short- to medium-haul” operations, but the company has yet to publish projected range or other performance details. Its planned use to connect rural areas seems to suggest that it may have a longer range than the 22-mile limit for the basic 216 model, but this has not been confirmed.
“With increasing payloads and flight ranges, aerial logistics is expected to be one of the initial commercial applications of AAVs as they have higher efficiencies but lower emissions than conventional ground transportation,” said EHang founder and chairman Hu Huazhi.