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Dialogue with Ehang Intelligence: From "Let some people fly first" to "Let urban traffic go to three dimensions"
Original Bisha 2022-07-11 07:30 Publicado en Hunan
Article | U.S. Stock Research Society
Looking back on the first half of 2022, with the release of a series of laws, regulations and policies, the domestic urban air traffic industry (UAM) ushered in an opportunity for rapid development.
In February, the Civil Aviation Administration released the "Special Conditions for Yihang EH216-S Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System". In March, the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Science and Technology proposed in the Outline of the Medium- and Long-term Development Plan for Scientific and Technological Innovation in the Field of Transportation, they proposed to deploy the research and development of new vehicles such as flying vehicles to break through the integration of aircraft and vehicles, and the free switching of flight and ground driving.
At present, the whole UAM industry market is booming. Capital focusses on the development prospects of UAM and eVTOL and has entered this field one after another. In the first five months of 2021 alone, the amount of corporate financing in the industry reached $5 billion, which has exceeded all the total financing of the industry in previous years. Traditional automobile enterprises have also begun to enter the UAM and eVTOL industries to further promote the development of the market.
According to Frost Sullivan Consulting, revenue from the global air traffic market for manned cities will surge from $0.3 million in 2018 to $295 billion in 2023, equivalent to an annual compound growth rate of 531 percent.
On the other hand, UAM needs to carry passengers or goods on specific point-to-point routes in urban areas, because due to the limitations of construction, plants, road traffic, crowds and other factors in the city, there are still many challenges in realising large-scale commercial operations.
How do the main players plan the commercialisation path on the urban air traffic track? What are their core thinking about the overall market environment? What changes will the large-scale implementation of UAM bring to the existing transportation system? With these problems in mind, U.S. Stock Research conducted an in-depth interview with Yihang Intelligence, the world's first listed urban air traffic company.
Let some people fly first.
U.S. Stock Research Agency: The well-known travel methods include buses, subways, automobiles, high-speed rails, etc. As a new way of travel, how does UAM choose a commercialised entry point?
Yihang Intelligence: In April 21, we released the "Air Traffic Hundred Line Plan", which plans to open up 100 air traffic routes in the future. The initial focus will be on the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and gradually expand to other parts of China.
By November 21, we had carried out air tours or short-distance air traffic trials in Guangzhou, Hezhou, Shenzhen, Zhaoqing, Sanya and other cities.
We hope that some people can fly up first at the pilot site, take the lead in feeling the charm of "urban air traffic", and then gradually bring Yihang's urban air traffic solutions to more cities around the world, so that more people can see and even feel this safe, green and intelligent product and a brand-new way of future life.
（U.S. Stock Research Society trial rideEH216）
Our customers come from Japan, South Korea, Norway, Azerbaidzhan, Mexico and other countries around the world.
U.S. Stock Research Society: With the development of the industry, the number of enterprises entrusting is also increasing. What do you think of the future competition pattern?
Yihang Intelligence: At present, the mainstream technical community recognises the route of eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle). Enterprises involved in research and development can be divided into two categories: one is traditional aircraft and automobile industry giants, such as Boeing, Airbus, Toyota, Geely, etc.; the other is innovative enterprises, including Joby and Archer in the United States, Volocoptor and Lilium in Germany, China's Yihang Intelligence and Small Peng Huitian, etc.
Traditional aircraft and automobile industry giants have contributed their experience and professional background, have the advantages of coordinated development, which is conducive to the development of R&D technology, the construction of sales channels and the development of commodity operation.
Excellent innovative enterprises have the first-mover advantage. For example, Yihang Intelligent was approved by the Civil Aviation Administration of China in 2018, becoming China's first pilot unit of manned self-driving aircraft. The manned unmanned aerial vehicles developed by Yihang Intelligence have been successfully applied in rescue, medical care, transportation and other professional fields, and have conducted test flights in 11 countries.
We believe that the industry will be in full bloom in the future.
U.S. Stock Research Agency: Since there are also many players in the industry, what will you pay attention to when evaluating eVTOL products designed by various manufacturers?
Yihang Intelligence: It can be analysed from four dimensions: product design, test flight, regulatory level and commercial delivery:
The first priority is product design. The evaluation of manned self-driving vehicles needs to consider full self-driving, preset routeing, ultra-long-range management, 4G/5G communication network and other technologies.
In addition, a large number of flight tests can help us find room for product improvement.
For example, although the noise of Yihang automatic aircraft is significantly lower than that of helicopters, noise cancellation can still be improved to support the normal operation of aircraft in residential areas.
Ideally, we believe that the noise of AV take-off and landing should not exceed that of engineering vehicles running nearby. We need to study noise reduction techniques (such as changing the size and shape of propellers, etc.) to further reduce the noise of self-driving vehicles.
In terms of supervision, the Civil Aviation Administration of China has set up a review working group for Yihang Intelligent Type Certification (TC) project to carry out the TC validation of EH216-S. In February 2022, the Civil Aviation Administration of China officially issued the Specialised Conditions for Yihang EH216-S Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System, which provides a basis for the compliance and safety of Yihang EH216-S.
In terms of commercial delivery, we have obtained reservations for 210 EH216 and VT-30s abroad this year. At the same time, Yunfu production base was officially put into operation in mid-2021.
U.S. Stock Research Agency: The outside world may know that eVTOL can be used as a means of transportation. In which fields can it be used?
Yihang Intelligent: We also have applications in expanding the field of smart city management. At present, two products, Yihang 216F (firefighting version) and Yihang 216L (logistics version) have been designed on the basis of Yihang 216-S.
The goal of the intelligent air firefighting emergency solution centred on 216F is to target the pain points such as height restrictions, narrow operation area and long equipment expansion time in traditional ground firefighting, while 216L can be used in short-distance air logistics scenarios in cities and remote areas.
Unable to compare with the outbreak of the Internet industry
We believe that the commercialisation process of the urban air traffic industry cannot be compared with the rapid outbreak of the Internet industry. As an industry with genes in the aviation industry, its development inevitably requires a long process of technological precipitation, strict industry supervision and continuous improvement of ecological system construction.
U.S. Stock Research Agency: Since large-scale application is still difficult in the short term, what conditions do the whole industry need to meet before UAM is launched?
Yihang Intelligence: First of all, eVTOL products need to undergo a lot of security tests. Since the launch of the first manned self-driving aircraft in 2016, the Yihang 216 series has conducted more than 20,000 safe test flights.
Secondly, UAM needs industrial planning and policy support at the national level. Domestic eVTOL products need to be verified in accordance with the airworthiness verification procedure of the Civil Aviation Administration, and urban air traffic is a brand-new strategic industry, and there is no precedent in airworthiness verification.
The development of emerging areas is often the first of technology, promoting the upgrading and innovation of standards and regulatory systems. Since the launch of the EH216-S model qualification validation project, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and us (Yihang Intelligence) have held many expert meetings to jointly formulate relevant standards for the qualification validation of EH216-S models.
Finally, we also need an operational ecology with perfect systems and strong replicability. In addition to the aircraft itself, the UAM system also includes command and dispatch platform, navigation and positioning system, station and other components, and the construction of relevant infrastructure is indispensable.
Source: Frost Sullivan Consulting Company
U.S. Stock Research Agency: Since the commercialisation road of UAM is still being explored, what are its advantages over traditional transportation?
Yihang Intelligence: There are indeed some challenges in the process of commercialisation, but UAM has obvious advantages in terms of cost compared with traditional transportation.
Self-driving vehicles can save labour costs and fuel costs; compared with traditional heavy asset transportation methods (such as aviation, railways, highways, etc.), product maintenance costs and infrastructure construction costs are also compared.
With the progress of relevant technologies, the establishment and supervision of industry standards and the improvement of the operation system, the large-scale commercial application of eVTOL is only a matter of time.
Move traffic from one-dimensional to three-dimensional
U.S. Stock Research Society: As the first pilot unit in China, what other efforts have you made on the road of UAM commercialisation?
Yihang Intelligent: The company was positioned as the UAM platform operator at the beginning of its listing. In addition to the design and manufacture of aircraft hardware, our UAM solution covers many aspects such as how to plan flight routes, the development of flight rules and standards for docking with civil aviation management systems, and remote control using 4G/5G transmission links.
U.S. Stock Research Agency: Since the beginning of this year, manufacturing industries such as electric vehicles have faced supply chain problems such as rising battery costs. Will these problems affect Yihang Intelligent's production plan?
Yihang Intelligence: Most of our suppliers are in South China, and we have not seen any significant impact of the epidemic on our supply chain. Due to changes in the global pattern, we have found that the prices of some raw materials have risen. Therefore, we have also prepared countermeasures in advance.
U.S. Stock Research Agency: We have learned that UAM enterprises such as Yihang Intelligent and Xiaopeng Huitian have been updating the recruitment information of various technical positions. At this stage, is there a large gap in the corresponding talents in the industry?
Yihang Intelligence: As an innovative industry, the urban air traffic industry needs not only experienced traditional aviation talents, but also talents with computer, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and other disciplines.
Battery technology, radar, optical and geopositioning sensors adapted to aviation standards, as well as technical difficulties such as artificial intelligence and multi-sensor fusion, require professionals to solve the key.
Of course, the most important thing for practitioners in this industry is to look at the development of the urban air traffic industry with awe of safety, rules and life.
U.S. Stock Research Agency: If UAM is really implemented on a large scale, what changes will happen to urban travel and life in the future?
Yihang Intelligence: Manned self-driving aircraft expands the current urban traffic from one dimension to three dimensions in the air.
We believe that there will be at least four changes: First, autonomous driving and cluster scheduling of command and dispatching centres can avoid traffic accidents caused by human errors.
Second, the predetermined route improves the certainty of travel. Not only is the cruise speed faster, but also the linear route efficiency is also higher, but also not disturbed by congestion.
Thirdly, urban air traffic vehicles use green energy, which reduces carbon emissions and improves air quality.
Finally, people travelling through urban air traffic can more easily reach previously inconvenient destinations, such as islands, mountains and rivers, wetlands and forests.