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Airbus Looks To Test Flying Cars By The End Of 2017

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【Summary】Airbus Group has plans to test its prototype of a self-piloted flying car by the end of the year.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jan 18, 2017 1:05 PM PT
Airbus Looks To Test Flying Cars By The End Of 2017

Despite all of the advancements being made in the automotive industry, there's still one thing that automakers and companies are skimming over – traffic. There is one company out there, though, that has a clear solution to fighting congestion: Airbus. 

Taking Mobility Airborne

Last year, Airbus created a division called Urban Air Mobility that revealed a blueprint of a flying car under the project name "Vahana." The design featured a streamlined look with seating for one passenger under a canopy. The retractable canopy mimics that of a motorcycle helmet visor, while the flying machine can be summoned like an Uber via smartphone. 

The futuristic, self-flying machine looks like something from a movie. Furthermore, Airbus plans to test a prototype by the end of the year, reports Reuters

The company aims to reduce the amount of pollution in congested cities, reports Reuters. "We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously," stated Airbus CEO Tom Enders. 

"One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technology wherewithal to go above ground," said Enders at the DLD Conference in Munich. "We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously." 

Airbus Group's flying vehicle utilizes vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology, allowing the machine to pick up passengers in congested urban areas. The machine though, as Popular Mechanics points out, is expected to fly in a similar fashion to a propeller-driven airplane. 

Enders also took some time to explain how flying machines would be cheaper than automobiles. "With flying, you don't need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads," he stated. 

According to Digital Trends, the prototype that Airbus plans to test is a single-passenger, self-piloted vehicle that is seen as a way to ease gridlock in congested cities. Division CEO Rodin Lyasoff, as reported by Digital Trends, believes that testing the prototype by the end of the year is reasonable, as subsystem tests are currently underway. 

Other Uses For The Flying Car

"Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there," stated Lyasoff. In addition to that, Lyasoff also believes that "reliable sense-and-avoid technology," which is now just appearing in cars, is another goal for its flying vehicle. 

Airbus has larger plans for its flying aircraft, which includes car sharing. With companies like Uber and Lyft disrupting the automotive industry, Airbus reveals that it can do the same for urban travel. "In as little as 10 years, we could have products on the market that revolutionize urban travel for millions of people," stated Lyasoff. 

Flying one passenger around doesn't sound like the smartest or the best way to reduce congestion, but Airbus Group also has plans to use the flying vehicle as a way to deliver packages. An entire fleet of self-piloted flying machines could be used to deliver packages for retailers, like DHL and Amazon, Digital Trends points out. 

If testing goes smoothly and Airbus is not hit by any major setbacks, the company should be able to reach its goal of having a production-ready aircraft in the air by 2021. 

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