Airbus Completes First Test Flight for Autonomous Vahana Air Taxi

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【Summary】Airbus’ autonomous air taxi, which is called the Vahana, recently completed its first test flight that saw the driverless machine rise 16 feet into the air for 53 seconds.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Feb 11, 2018 9:30 AM PT
Airbus Completes First Test Flight for Autonomous Vahana Air Taxi

The tech industry may be focusing on autonomous and electric vehicles at the moment, but some companies are looking into taking transportation in a different direction – to the skies

The most prominent company looking into creating autonomous vehicles that can soar the skies is the Airbus Group, which is a San Jose, Calif.-based company that set out to build a flying taxi in November 2016. The original blueprint for the Vahana flying taxi outlined a self-flying vehicle that only had one seat. The seat is tucked away under a retractable canopy and, the machine, can be summoned using a smartphone. 

Airbus Tests Flying Machine For First Time

While the machine featured a radical design and looked like it wouldn't amount to anything besides being a futuristic design study, Airbus has completed its first test flight for the Vahana. 

According to The Verge, Airbus completed the first successful test flight of its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) machine at the end of January. The test took place at 8:52 AM and saw the machine soar 16 feet into the sky. The vehicle then landed back onto the ground safely. The flight, as the outlet reports, took only 53 seconds. 

That might not sound like anything ground breaking, but Airbus' testing is incredible for a company that came out with a bold idea and went through with it. The first test is just one step in Airbus' plan to come out with a fleet of flying machines to act as taxis. And while the testing was late, Airbus originally thought it would be able to have testing completed by the end of 2017, it marks an impressive moment for flying vehicles. 

The Verge reports that the flying vehicle was moved from California to Pendleton, Oregon, which is where the testing was completed. A production version of the machine should be fully operable 2020. 

More Testing, Improvements On The Way

"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," said Zach Lovering, project executive at Vahana, in a blog post. "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." 

Specifications for the tested vehicle are as follows: 20.3 feet wide, 18.7 feet long, 9.2 feet tall, and a weight of 1,642 pounds. 

The next stage for Airbus is to continue testing its machines. "Following the completion of this successful test, the Vahana team will continue development and perform further flight tests to transition and forward flight," said Lovering. 

To further help its testing, Airbus has set its sights on a new partner for electric motors – MAGicALL. The California-based company, which specializes in motors, inductors, generators, and transformers, will provide Airbus with motors in the near future. 

Flying cars still sound like a crazy idea, but they're really happening. 

via: The Verge, Vahana

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