We have all seen futuristic movies or read sci-fi books that feature flying cars that zoom and swerve in the skies, leaving behind the congestion of the urban sprawls below. And one company is working hard towards making that a reality in near future.
French aerospace giant Airbus, commonly known for building airplanes, has been working on a flying car since mid-2016. It is meant to be “a self-piloted flying vehicle platform for individual passenger and cargo transport named VAHANA (a Sanskrit word that means the vehicle of gods).” This ongoing project is a part of the company’s A^3 division, located in Silicon Valley, California.
Airbus has been working on “vertical take-off and landing” (VTOL) technology that will allow vehicles to pick up commuters in busy urban areas, and has said it expects to be putting them into production by 2021.
“Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there,” said A^3 CEO Rodin Lyasoff, but he also warned that the biggest challenge was to develop technology that would allow the vehicle to sense and avoid possible collisions. The self-driving technology is still being developed for cars that drive on roads, and no such solution exists for airborne travel.
Autonomous driving is expected to revolutionize the car industry over the next decade and Mr. Enders believes the technology could have a similar impact on airborne transport.
Airbus is already the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial helicopters, putting it in chief position while getting into the potential new aviation segment. The company also stated that its concept for a CityAirbus vehicle, in which the passengers would walk to the nearest helipad to board, would become reality without too many regulatory changes. Using sky for cars would save costs spent on building and maintaining roads and bridges, and also said that the technology behind the Vahana project would have to be one that doesn’t further pollute already congested cities.