Airbus Shows Footage of Their Prototype Flying Taxi in Action

Saturday, 24 February 2018 - 3:45PM
Saturday, 24 February 2018 - 3:45PM
Airbus Shows Footage of Their Prototype Flying Taxi in Action
< >
YouTube/Zach Lovering
At the beginning of the month, Airbus drew a lot of attention when their Vahana project - with the goal of building an autonomous flying taxi - actually flew a prototype model in a successful test flight.

Now they've finally decided to release a video showing that test flight from three weeks ago. The test was modest, only lasting 53 seconds while the air taxi only flew 16 feet (4.8 meters) up in the air, but it's an impressive start considering the taxi flew itself the entire time.

And on top of that, the prototype model, named "AlphaOne", is an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) which is environmentally friendly while setting it apart from its other flying competitors. See the footage below:

It's difficult to get too excited just yet, as the accomplishment is still more about the taxi's potential than what it's actually done thus far - you may have noticed that the video is front-loaded with lots of dramatic shots of the aircraft before we see it briefly fly. But now that the project is, ahem, getting off the ground, we are one step closer to taxis that can arrive and move us around even when ground traffic is completely gridlocked.

A blog post from Vahana written by Zach Lovering (who also posted the above video) goes into more detail about what they're hoping to achieve:

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 desire to fix growing traffic problems is hardly a unique one, as even apart from similar flying taxis with similar goals, others like Elon Musk are working on underground tunnels in the hopes that he can solve Los Angeles' atrocious traffic jams. Although Musk's Boring Company is currently preoccupied with selling flamethrowers, but that's getting into a tangent.

Airbus is hoping to complete their flying taxi and get a fully operational version in the skies by 2020, so there will presumably be some updates before then.
Science News