The aviation giant will begin testing of the Vahana next year. The self-flying vehicle will run purely on electricity and is being developed by an Airbus subsidiary – A3 – in Silicon Valley.
A3 is confident that the machine will be ready to test in 2017; it will carry one passenger at a time on short city journeys. To achieve this, it will also have to be successful in its attempts to force a regulatory change allowing automated aircraft in urban areas. The Vahana will be fitted with small parachutes and, according to A3, will be safer than most aircraft.
According to Airbus Group, Rodin Lyasoff, A3 Project Executive said of the endeavour: “Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors, and avionics are most of the way there. We believe that global demand for this category of aircraft can support fleets of millions of vehicles worldwide. In as little as 10 years, we could have products on the market that revolutionise urban travel for millions of people.”
Experts expect this news to cause the race for small autonomous flying vehicles to heat up.