Breaking constraints is the DNA of EHang
“EHang 184 has been the motivation for me to enter the drone industry,” Derrick indicated. “I believe that EHang 184 could reconfigure transportation systems.”
EHang 184, the world's first drone capable of carrying a human passenger, amazed the world when it was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in the U.S.A. in January last year.
"EHang 184 is an innovative, unique product. So far no one can compete with it," Derrick indicated. "What’s more, it is designed and manufactured by a Chinese company."
EHang 184, the world's first drone capable of carrying a human passenger. (Source: EHang)
Although EHang 184 won the Best of CES 2016, some people questioned whether EHang 184 meets the requisite safety standards. However, in Derrick‘s opinion, it is a necessary step in order for companies to progress towardnew things.
"We should not be afraid of breaking free of our l constraints, if we want to do something innovative," Derrick indicated. "Since EHang 184 is a brand new product, there are no relevant standards for it."
Derrick told us that they have been discussing with FAA and CAAC about the formulation of new regulations and safety standards for EHang 184.
"In fact, EHang is always the first person to test the water," Derrick told us. "We always do something that no one has tried before. For example, we developed the first app controlled drone and our drone formation flight broke Guinness World Records twice."
A drone formation flight show was performed this year in Guangzhou. (Source: EHang)
Derrick emphasized that EHang's DNA is about freeing itself from constraints and doing disruptive innovation, Not merely copying other drone companies. According to Derrick, the R&D budget occupies more than 50% of EHang‘s total expenditure.
"After thousands of tests EHang 184 can reliably perform a fixed-point flight stably," said Derrick. "We hope that EHang 184 would fly in front of Guangzhou's citizens later this year."
Going global is inevitable for Chinese companies
With the rapid economic and technological progress that China has made over recent years, especially regarding the development of Belt and Road Initiative, more and more Chinese businesses are proving their worth in the international arena with their core technology.
As far as Derrick is concerned, the increasing pace of going global for Chinese companies is also an inevitable trend.
“There are two advantages for startup businesses to go global,” Derrick indicated. “One is that China has a good environment for people to start a business or do technological innovation, while the other is cost advantages.”
Furthermore, the progress of the Belt and Road Initiative has enhanced mutual understanding between Chinese companies and western countries and resulted in more cooperation.
In July this year, EHang signed letter of intent with Limburg Province (Belgium), one of the sister provinces of Guangdong.
EHang signed a cooperation agreement with Lieven De Jonge of Made in Limburg in July this year.
“We went to Limburg twice in order to visit a valley in Hasselt, Limburg Province,” said Derrick. “We think that the drone valley not only represents a good place for testing EHang 184, but could also work as a hub for EHang 184 to enter European market in the future.”
Derrick told us the decision for the two to cooperate was decided in only two months.
“The Guangdong Government, Locate in Limburg and VOKA played an important role in the cooperation,” Derrick indicated. “Mutual trust will be gradually cultivated through official channels.”
Limburg is an important logistics hub in the heart of Europe. A canal directly connects Limburg with both the Port of Antwerp and the Port of Rotterdam, the two largest ports in Europe. Goods can be transported to these ports from Limburg and subsequently distributed to other European countries.
Derrick indicated that specific plans for further cooperation with Limburg would be launched step by step.
At present, EHang have already set up branches and agents in five continents, such as the U.S., Germany, Australia and Singapore.
“The drone market is still young,” Derrick told us. “What EHang is going to do is keep innovating. ”
Author: Steven Yuen & Abby Chen
Editor: Simon Haywood & Olivia Yang