Airbus plans to start testing a pilot-free flying taxi by the end of next year.
Meet Vahana, a new breed of vehicle on the horizon for Airbus. The engineers at the aircraft company have developed this new technology as an autonomous flying vehicle designed to ship both people and products.
“We believe that global demand for this category of aircraft can support fleets of millions of vehicles worldwide,” Rodin Lyasoff, lead Airbus engineer on the project, told Clean Technica. “In as little as 10 years, we could have products on the market that revolutionize urban travel for millions of people. Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there.”
Airbus plans to begin testing on Vahana by the end of 2017. The product will initially be a manned vehicle, but will switch to be fully autonomous once proper regulations and technology are in place—like the sense-and-avoid technology used in self-driving cars, but none of the technology the company requires is fully available for the aviation world yet.
“That’s one of the bigger challenges we aim to resolve as early as possible,” Lyasoff told Clean Technica.
Airbus began working on Vahana in February of this year and are working hard to develop a system that could ultimately be used alongside a ridesharing app, where someone hails an air taxi and climbs into the unmanned machine.
“A3 is powering ahead with Vahana, and as is typical for Silicon Valley, the company thinks in terms of weeks, not years,” Airbus said in a statement reported by AVweb.