August 27, 2019: DSV Panalpina is transporting first prototypes of autonomous aerial vehicles (AAVs) for Austrian aerospace group FACC for moving people or goods efficiently in cities. Under a partnership between FACC and Chinese technology company EHang, DSV Panalpina transported the prototypes by air freight, also taking care of customs brokerage and last-mile delivery.
EHang entered into a strategic partnership at the end of 2018 with the leading Austrian aerospace group FACC, under which the AAVs will be optimised and made ready for serial production. A total of 300 aerial vehicles will be produced until the end of 2020 at FACC. DSV Panalpina has been tasked with transporting the first prototypes by air freight, including customs brokerage and last-mile delivery.
EHang, the Chinese technology company specialising in air mobility that built the world's first electric AAV, offers one- and two-seat models. Weighing between 300 and 360 kilogramme, these can take maximum payloads between 440 and 620 kilogramme, and reach speeds of up to 130 kilometre/hour.
AAVs need minimal space for take-off and landing. Besides transporting people or goods, these auto-pilot vehicles can be used to fly emergency goods or to perform high-risk operations in the event of environmental catastrophes. Paired with fast computers and big data, they promise a smart and viable solution for low-airspace, short-distance urban mobility within and between cities.
The business relations of former Panalpina with FACC go back to 15 years. The first AAV prototype was transported in October 2018 and the freight forwarder's teams have been helping to move them from Hong Kong airport to Linz, Austria.
Demand for aerial vehicles is expected to soar to EUR 32 billion over the next decade, according to the Aerospace & Defense Radar report by consultancy firm Roland Berger.