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The only way is up: Airbus to design self-flying taxis

An artist impression of the CityAirbus (Photo: Airbus Group)

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Kate Mann
Kate Mann
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Airbus aims to reduce congestion with an autonomous flying vehicle platform for individual passenger and cargo transport.

No one likes to be stuck in a traffic jam. And whilst reducing and improving the time people spend in stationary cars are among the main aims of driverless car technology, one company is now taking the fight against traffic congestion one step further. If we mention “Airbus” it might be clear in which direction this is going.

The aircraft giant has announced plans to design an autonomous flying vehicle platform for individual passenger and cargo transport. As reported by Business Insider, the battery-powered airborne taxis, known as CityAirbus, would be able to fly themselves and form part of a fleet that could be summoned by a smartphone.

The technology is being pioneered by A3, the company’s innovation outpost in Silicon Valley. Known as Vahana, the project is being led by executive Rodin Lyasoff. “In as little as ten years, we could have products on the market that revolutionize urban travel for millions of people,” he says.

Lyasoff says one of the biggest challenges for his team is to develop dependable ‘sense-and-avoid’ technology, similar to that which is being introduced in driverless cars. Airbus also states that regulations to enable such a presence in our skies will be crucial for the project to take off. According to the company, the taxis will at first be operated by a pilot, before flying autonomously once federal regulations are in place.

As futuristic as this sounds, Airbus says flight tests of the first vehicle prototype could take place by 2017. So put your tray table up, your seat belt on and watch this space.

Read more on Business Insider here and Airbus here.

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