An Airbus flying car prototype will take to the skies by the end of 2017 if CEO Tom Enders’ timescale goes to plan.
The A^3 Project Vahana team is currently working on a prototype of the brand’s first ‘piloted flying vehicle platform for individual passenger and cargo transport’, as it is described by Airbus.
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The project has been underway since February 2016, but this is the first time such a specific timeframe has been applied.
Rodin Lyasoff, CEO of Airbus’s A^3 branch, highlighted some of the challenges the Silicon Valley-based A^3 team faces, saying: “Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there.”
This suggests that not only will Airbus’s prototype fly, it’ll be electrically powered too. Lyasoff aims the final ‘car’ to join the numerous mobility schemes planned by car manufacturers across the industry. “The system could operate similarly to car-sharing applications, with the use of smartphones to book a vehicle.”
The largest barrier to entry, says Vahana, is the lack of AEB-type ‘sense and avoid’ technology for airborne vehicles. “That’s one of the bigger challenges we aim to resolve as early as possible.”
Depending on the range of the flying electric vehicles, A^3’s vision for a flying car could put strain on Airbus’s main area of business; commercial passenger aircraft.
This end-of-year target for the working prototype suggests that the car could make an appearance at next year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.