French aerospace giant Airbus, a direct competitor to US-based Boeing that is best known for large jetliners such as the double-decker A380, has finally let the cat out of the bag! The company has divulged its secret flying-car project, which is a single-manned, autonomously piloted aircraft that can take off and land vertically. The project has been named as Vahana, which is taken from a Sanskrit word that means the vehicle of the gods.
According to the CEO of A³, Rodin Lyasoff, the project was launched in early 2016. A³ in case you are unaware of it, is a startup and the Silicon Valley counterpart of Airbus.
Equipped with eight rotors on two sets of wings, both of which tilt depending on whether the car is flying vertically or horizontally, Vahana has room for a single passenger under a canopy. What is even more interesting about this aircraft is that, according to CNN Money, it will be deployed like a taxi — basically making it the air-taxi version of Uber!
Beyond developing the vehicle itself, we’re seeking to move key technology categories forward, foster development of the regulatory regime for the certification and operation of automated aircraft, and to otherwise nurture an ecosystem that will help enable the vertical cities of the future.
Lyasoff mentioned in a medium post last month. Well, he certainly has some ambitious dreams! His team of engineers, designers and robotics aims to fly a full-size flying car, before the end of 2017.
On talking about the cost and the feasibility of producing a flying car Lyasoff said,
Pilotless flying cars are an attainable dream, if only because the rules governing the skies are bound to change in the future. Plus robot aircraft are cheaper to produce. Full automation also enables us to make our aircraft as small and light as possible, and will significantly reduce manufacturing costs.
Well, we will take his word for it. Autonomous technology and Flying cars are both developing niches. No one would have dreamt about launching one by the end of the decade in say 2010 or 2011. However, the past few years have seen a massive surge of interest in both the technologies and this has really managed to give them some serious impetus.
That said, it will still be a significant feat of engineering if Airbus does manage to put an autonomous car into the air by 2017. And it will be an achievement that will bring significant changes to the way we travel. Interestingly, the company also said that a flight would cost nearly the equivalent of a normal taxi ride for each passenger.
As the company said,
Rush-hour traffic is unbearable for many commuters today – and the problem is growing. By 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in cities, which is 10% more than today. To address this rising concern, Airbus Group is harnessing its experience to make the dream of all commuters and travellers come true one day: to fly over traffic jams at the push of a button.
Well, there are certainly a LOT of ifs and buts and hows here. However, let’s keep our fingers crossed folks! Meanwhile, you can know more about Airbus’s ambitious vision of the future by visiting the official Vahana page.