Airbus wants to have a prototype flying car ready to test by the end of this year
Airbus says it plans to have a prototype self-driving flying car ready for the end of the year, as a concept for combating increased traffic on city streets.
The aeroplane manufacturing giant created a special division last year called Urban Air Mobility to look into ways to beat the transport issues created by increasingly populated cities. The division is part of Airbus’s advanced projects team A^3, which is based in Silicon Valley.
Now Airbus boss Tom Enders has told a conference in Germany that the company hopes to be able to demo a concept single seater vehicle that flies above traffic by the end of the year as part of a mission they’re calling “Project Vahana”.
“One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground,” he said.
“We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously. With flying, you don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads.”
On their website, Airbus has described plans to build a “self-piloting flying vehicle platform” that can be used for both passenger and cargo movements. The company says much of the technology needed in order to create it already exists or is “most of the way there”. The firm is already working on its first vehicle for the Vahana platform.
Called CityAirbus, it will build on the company’s experience as the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world, using propellers and “resembling a small drone in its basic design”.
The head of the A^3, Rodin Lyasoff, posted concept images of the CityAirbus online via a blog on Medium.
The company says initially it would use pilots but the aim would be to go autonomous eventually, with journeys designed to appeal to the sharing economy and be priced at a similar rate to a taxi journey.