Artist’s impression of the multipropeller CityAirbus vehicle (Airbus)
Cities grow and the global movement as we know it will only get worse. Airbus Group urban air division mobility predicts that in 2030, 60 percent of the population lives in cities, up from 50 percent today. The aircraft giant, second in size only to Boeing, is developing three separate solutions to urban congestion, and they all look to the sky. Airbus is working on a single-passenger vehicle, the package delivery drones, and autonomous buses.
Airbus CEO Tom Enders spoke about the company, the projects in Munich at the DLD conference, where he told the congregation that he hopes that the company will demonstrate that there is a single person flying vehicle end of the year, Reuters reported. “A hundred years ago, the urban transport went underground, now we have the technological means to go above the ground. We are in an experiment phase, we take this development very seriously. With flying, you do not need to pour billions in concrete roads and bridges.”
Relying on the corporate experience with commercial helicopters and making the most of the emerging autonomous driving and artificial intelligence technologies, Enders continued, “If we ignore these developments, we will be pushed out of important segments of the company.”
Vahana, a single passenger, the self-vehicle is controlled, the Airbus concept for a flying car seen as a viable solution for blocking commuters. This is the vehicle Enders wants to test by the end of 2017 and according to division CEO, Rodin Lyasoff, it is entirely feasible.
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“Many of the technologies that are needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there,” Lyasoff said. He has also stated that “reliable sense-and-avoid technology,” but now appears to be in cars, is one of their target challenges. The Vahana-platform can be used for car-sharing, with global demand in the millions of vehicles. “In as little as 10 years we have had products on the market that have revolutionized urban travel for millions of people.” Subsystem tests are already underway for the Vahana.
The Airbus Skyways project includes a huge fleets of the parcel delivery drones. Airbus is not going in the package delivery, but will see retailers like Amazon and delivery services like DHL as a potential Skyways customers.
CityAirbus is the Airbus concept for multi-passenger, electrically-powered flying vehicle. The actual design is kept secret, but the concept is the use of multiple screws and look like a relatively small drone. First, the CityAirbus transports would have pilot operators — in order to speed market acceptance. From the beginning, however, the plan is to CityAirbus a fully autonomous vehicle, move forward and wait for the enable of the regulations and legislation that allow it to fly pilot-free.
Airbus is not waiting around for another company or group the first in the flying vehicle business. According to Jorg Muller, Airbus’ corporate development department, “This market will develop quickly if we are able to deploy the first vehicles in mega-cities and the benefits of a quiet, emission free air transport at competitive prices.”