Airbus Is Close to Releasing Its Own Self-Driving Flying Car

Wednesday, 23 August 2017 - 10:53AM
Technology
Science of Sci-Fi
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 - 10:53AM
Airbus Is Close to Releasing Its Own Self-Driving Flying Car
Image credit: Airbus
It's happening, people. After decades of waiting, we're getting close to the Holy Grail of sci-fi technology: the flying car. Airbus already has the technology built and ready to go. The only problem, however, is the driver. As it turns out, not just anyone is allowed to drive a flying car—doing so legally requires a pilot's license.

With Airbus' Vahana prototype, it makes sense to remove the pilot from the equation altogether by using self-driving technology to allow the Vahana to ferry passengers around in what essentially equates to an airborne drone version of Uber.




The challenge that Airbus is currently attempting to solve revolves around landing. It's easy to plan for obvious issues, like making sure the vehicle is level with the ground, but air taxis won't always be landing and taking off under perfect conditions. Similar to autonomous cars, they need to be able to deal with unexpected scenarios, like fallen trees or unexpected pedestrians.

The solution seems to have come from Near Earth Autonomy, a technology company that's developed a handy guidance system called the Peregrine that uses lasers to scan a potential landing site for hazards or obstacles. If the Vahana attempts to touch down in a spot where objects or people are in the way, the Peregrine detects the potential danger and the Vahana moves on to a different landing spot.

This research is currently ongoing, with Airbus hoping to have the Peregrine tested on Vahana prototypes this year. If all goes well, we could see flying cars becoming a common sight in everyday life in the very near future. Soon, we'll all be able to fulfil our childhood dreams of hopping into a flying car to get to work, before instantly getting annoyed that our robot taxis still need to search for an adequate parking spot. Then again, cruising around in your own flying DeLorean never gets old.

Also, if you live in a major city and enjoy naked rooftop sunbathing, maybe make the most of it while you can.
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