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From Bladerunner to Back To The Future, flying cars have been a mainstay of movies and TV shows about the future. But as far as Airbus is concerned, the future is now.
At the DLD digital tech conference in Munich yesterday, Airbus CEO Tom Enders stated that the company expects to test an autonomous single-person flying car by the end of 2017 and wants to have a production aircraft for short flights ready within the next four years.
The vehicle, called Project Vahana, is being helmed by A3, the Silicon Valley-based division of Airbus which last month unveiled a proposal for swappable cabins on commercial aircraft. The timetable may sound fanciful, but A3 CEO Rodin Lyasoff believes it can be done. “Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there,” he explained in a recent issue of FORUM, Airbus’ company magazine.
According to Lyasoff, the aircraft would be self-piloted, doesn’t need a runway and can automatically detect and avoid obstacles and other flying machines. It’s a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle designed to be 100% electric. The division hopes to make it the first certified passenger aircraft without a pilot.
Vahana is just one of three projects being undertaken by the aerospace giant in the realm of urban air mobility — others include a flying bus called CityAirbus and a drone parcel delivery service soon to be tested on the campus of the National University of Singapore.
“With flying, you don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads,” said Enders at the conference. Airbus hopes its flying vehicle, along with its other projects, could eventually operate in the same way as car sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft.
No word yet on whether Airbus will offer any promo codes for $25 off.
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