Malaysia’s first flying vehicle prototype – which is set to take flight this Thursday – has been identified, and it’s not the Vector that is being developed by local company Aerodyne Group. Emerging information from news reports has revealed the unit to be foreign-made, in this case the EHang 216, a passenger drone made by Chinese company Beijing Yi-Hang Creation Science & Technology Co.
As Berita Harian reports, the vehicle, which will be known as the Super Dron locally, is a joint venture project between local company EastCap and two Chinese companies, EHang Intelligent Equipment (Guangzhou) and Strong Rich Holdings. The strategic partnership will handle the marketing, operation and maintenance of the Super Dron in the country.
Earlier this week, it was reported that entrepreneur development minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof is set to ride alongside the pilot when the vehicle takes its maiden flight in Subang on Thursday.
The EHang 216 is a passenger drone with eight arms, each mounting two electric motors that are connected to propellers, making for 16 rotors in all. The 360 kg unit features an aero-cab structure capable of accomodating two passengers, with payload rated at 260 kg. Performance figures off the Internet reveal a cruising speed of 130 km/h and a flight range of around 35 km for the drone.
The BH report adds that EastCap, which is helmed by Datuk Seri Zakwanhafiz Ahmad Ansari, who is the MD and CEO, is also involved in the plantation industry, especially in guarana crop development. Back in August, the company signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Rumah Koperasi Indonesia (RKI) for the latter to purchase 1,000 units of the Super Dron for use primarily in the agricultural sector as a plantation mapping tool and as a crop sprayer.
The company has also previously stated that the introduction of the Super Dron in the country was not meant as an avenue for public transportation, but for applications such as border monitoring by authorities as an emergency aid vehicle. EastCap has also said it aims to build a super drone assembly facility in Malaysia with a production capacity of 10,000 units a year.
Last month, Redzuan said that a second flying vehicle is in the works, and this would utilise different technologies from the first one. He added that the vehicle is expected to perform its inaugural flight in the third quarter of 2020.
This could likely be the Vector, a drone-based, point-to-point air mobility solution being developed by Malaysian company Aerodyne Group in collaboration with a Japanese partner. The Vector will reportedly be powered by four motors and a lithium-ion battery. Weighing in at 600 kg, and with a payload capacity of up to 200 kg, the vehicle is capable of flying about 50 metres above ground level at 60 km/h, and will offer from 30 up to 90 minutes of flight time.