China’s EHang gets serious about bringing drone air-taxis to Guangzhou

Guangzhou would be among the first cities worldwide to clear infrastructure and regulatory barriers for this new form of urban mobility.

Photo: Tuchong

Chinese drone maker EHang, which first unveiled a passenger-carrying drone back in 2016, signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the municipal government of Guangzhou, the capital of South China’s Guangdong province, according to a statement on the company’s website.

Flying taxis might become a reality soon after all. The two parties said they will cooperate to eventually allow autonomous aerial vehicles, to carry passengers and cargo in 11 districts in the city. They will travel along fixed routes, first on a trial basis. EHang will also establish a dispatch center for the drones.

By vowing to clear infrastructure and regulatory barriers for the urban air mobility industry, Guangzhou is showing itself as a pioneer with this partnership.

According to consulting company Roland Berger, several passenger-carrying drone projects are scheduled to go live in cities like Dubai, Singapore, Los Angles, and Dallas in the early 2020s.

Roland Berger predicted that by 2025, about 3,000 passenger drones would be in use worldwide by 2025 as the first commercially used urban air mobility routes start operating. By 2050, up to 100,000 passenger drones could be on the move, serving as air taxis, airport shuttles, and an intercity flight service.