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Are Autonomous Aircraft the Answer to Traffic Congestion?

José Ignacio Rexach - EHang
Commercial Director Europe and Latin America


Sofía Garduño By Sofía Garduño | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Thu, 06/08/2023 - 16:16

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Q: As a pioneer in the Urban Air Mobility industry, how do you envision autonomous aerial vehicles (AAVs) shaping transportation and logistics? 

A: EHang is the global leader in the advanced air mobility sector, which is poised to revolutionize and transform transportation, particularly in urban and peri-urban areas. Advanced air mobility involves the facilitation of electric aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing. This innovation addresses urban traffic congestion, providing a new transportation option while promoting sustainability by minimizing noise and pollution. Moreover, it ensures safety and efficiency through the development of a comprehensive ecosystem. This ecosystem encompasses systems and services supporting the aerial navigation of electric vehicles and their harmonious coexistence with traditional manned aviation. Substantial investments are being made to establish infrastructure within urban environments, facilitating the operation of these cutting-edge aircraft. The integration of these infrastructures is a priority, minimizing initial investment requirements and long-term maintenance costs. EHANG manufactures autonomous aerial vehicles that operate without onboard pilots, relying instead on remote piloting. These vehicles are dedicated to transporting cargo or passengers, with automated operations managed by remote pilots. This meticulous approach ensures seamless integration and eliminates human errors. The availability of this new mode of mobility will soon benefit cities worldwide. Numerous companies are actively involved in various aspects of the ecosystem, including platform development and related systems. However, EHang stands at the forefront of ecosystem creation due to its advanced technology and pioneering position in this industry.

Q: When do you see this technology being widely adopted in Mexico?

A: EHang's aircraft are the most advanced, with a significant number of flight hours accumulated.In Mexico, we already have clients and along with Brazil, these two countries have the highest need for alleviating congestion in large cities in  LatAm, making advanced air mobility highly welcomed and necessary. We are collaborating with the Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) and our local partners, as Air Mobility in Mexico, to obtain the initial airworthiness certificate to start operations very soon. We firmly believe that there is a substantial demand for this new mode of sustainable and efficient transportation in Mexico. 

Q: The concept of autonomous aerial vehicles is still relatively new. What are the main challenges you face?

A: When an individual pioneers a sector, it often presents challenges but it also serves as a significant source of motivation. In the realm of conventional aviation, the focus was primarily on strategic defense capabilities and national sovereignty. Simultaneously, the development of commercial aviation aimed to nurture local expertise, technological advancements and other valuable resources. However, these programs historically generated fascinating and cutting-edge products that were not specifically tailored for end users.

We are actively collaborating with regulatory agencies worldwide to establish customized regulatory frameworks, which allow the deployment of safe and efficient Urban Air Mobility services. Moreover, the initial priority is the establishment of an unmanned air traffic management system. By 2040, specialized consulting firms estimate that 160,000 passenger carrying eVTOL (electric Vertical Take off and Landing) aircraft will be operational in urban environments. To achieve this, the aircraft must undergo digitalization and centralized remote command and control. Additionally, unmanned air traffic management systems are essential to ensure the safe and efficient coexistence of unmanned aircraft with conventional aviation. 

Our company possesses a robust platform equipped with a highly reliable command and control system, supported by an extensive history of incident-free flight hours and operations. We have established collaborative agreements with renowned providers of traditional air navigation services such as Enaire of Spain and are actively engaging with emerging players to facilitate infrastructure development. Furthermore, effective demand generation and successful commercialization of these solutions are of paramount importance. 

Q: What are you planning to achieve by the end of 2023?

A: We are actively participating in numerous projects initiated by the European Commission in the EU. These projects aim to create a unified digital airspace in the EU, facilitating operations for these new modes of transportation. In the EU, we are conducting flight operations in different countries and we will continue to do so. Additionally, in Spain, we have a private partner named Globalvia that has embraced this new mobility model. Furthermore, we are collaborating with the Spanish National Police, who intend to utilize these new platforms for emergency response and public safety missions.

We are also working with the government of Israel and local partners to develop the complete ecosystem for Urban Air Mobility. Our goal is to create an environment conducive to the implementation of aerial mobility solutions.

In addition, we expect to initiate operations in Mexico, in collaboration with the local Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) and our local partners and we anticipate conducting flight operations in other countries within the Latin American region.


EHang is a leading autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology platform focused on serving the Advanced Air Mobility (including passenger transportation and logistics), smart city management and aerial media sectors

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