'Airbus' Autonomous Air Taxi Completes its First Test Flight

Thursday, 01 February 2018 - 9:27PM
Technology
Thursday, 01 February 2018 - 9:27PM
'Airbus' Autonomous Air Taxi Completes its First Test Flight
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Vahana.aero
We're getting ever closer to the day when we can ride flying taxis from place to place, passing straight over crowded roads in a craft that's somewhere in between a helicopter and a drone.

Airbus has just announced that they've completed the first successful test flight for their "Vahana" autonomous air taxi, hitting a major milestone in the self-piloted craft's development. The flight was only 53 seconds long, and the craft managed to travel 16 feet into the air before landing, but it's a modest start for a product that still feels like it's in the realm of science fiction.

That particular flying taxi model, dubbed "Alpha One", sits at 20.3 feet (6.2 meters) wide, 9.2 feet (2.8 meters) tall, and weighs in at 1642 pounds (745 kilograms). So getting one of those off the ground was a big deal, even for such a short amount of time.




The team in charge of the test flight (as well as a similarly successful flight shortly after) is called Project Vahana, a team who works at Airbus' experimental Silicon Valley branch, called A3. In a blog post, the team went into detail about what they're hoping to accomplish:

Opening quote
"Our aim has long been to design and build a single passenger electric VTOL self-piloted aircraft that will answer the growing need for urban mobility. Our goal is to democratize personal flight by leveraging the latest technologies such as electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision. Our first flights mark a huge milestone for Vahana as well as the global pursuit of urban air mobility."
Closing quote


The eventual goal is to have a flying taxi that's ready for production by 2020. This first flight was already delayed by a couple months, but it still seems like they're on track to hit that deadline. Or at least, we've seen little else to suggest otherwise.

By 2020, we might start seeing more self-driving cars (or underground Boring Company tunnels) that will help make the roads less packed with disgruntled commuters - but it's still nice to know we'd be able to just fly over it all.
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