It seems the world has tilted on its axis and suddenly everyone and their brother is worried about urban congestion. Maybe it’s a matter of perspective. The US has less than a dozen cities with more than 1,000,000 inhabitants. China has 108 and is adding more every day. Airbus thinks it has a way to relieve urban congestion — the autonomous flying taxi, which it calls the CityAirbus. Think of it as an Uber with wings.
“I’m no big fan of Star Wars, but it’s not crazy to imagine that one day our big cities will have flying cars making their way along roads in the sky,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders says. “In a not too distant future, we’ll use our smartphones to book a fully automated flying taxi that will land outside our front door – without any pilot.”
The Airbus website contains this statement. “Techies in Silicon Valley invent high-tech products every day. However, they still do not have a solution for one of their biggest problems: rush hour, In response, Airbus Group experts are looking skywards to develop radical concepts that will relieve urban congestion.”
The biggest hurdle to overcome is the technology that will allow the CityAirbus to fly on its own without human intervention. That may actually be easier to do in the air than it is on the ground. At least while flying, the vehicles won’t have to worry about pedestrians stepping unexpectedly off curbs or drunk drivers.
Before the CityAirbus gets here, the company has another idea it is working on. Called Project Vahana, it’s an electric, autonomous helicopter that can be used for commercial or personal use. Airbus expects to conduct its first test flights of a Vahana prototype before the end of next year. Rodin Lyasoff, the engineer leading the project, says that timeline may sound ambitious, but it is entirely feasible. “Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there,” he writes on the Airbus website.
Airbus may think flying taxis are the way forward for a civilization that is becoming increasingly urbanized, but the idea of thousands of these devices buzzing through the skies makes me think all the CityAirbus will do is create congestion in the skies as well as on the ground. Perhaps my rose colored glasses need are out of focus.
Source: Business Insider Graphic credit: Airbus