Airbus unveils Vahana, the autonomous flying taxi concept

Posted on Posted in 2016 Business Opportunities For You, What's Trending Now

 

European aerospace giant Airbus has unveiled an ambitious Silicon Valley project called Vahana.

It’s a pilotless passenger aircraft that aims to someday add a vertical component to our commute. Think of Uber-like air taxis that can beat the traffic during rush hour by flying over it.

 

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Airbus has shared few details about the aircraft, but recently posted its first conceptual renderings on a Medium blog. The drawings depict a craft that can take off and land vertically. It has helicopter-like struts, and two sets of tilting wings each with four electric motors. There’s room for a passenger under a canopy that retracts like a motorcycle helmet visor.

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Vahana concept

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Airbus, a rival of American icon Boeing (BA), is best known for its large jetliners like the double-decker A380. But it’s also pouring big money into the future, and holds an advantage that many aviation startups with radical concepts don’t have: Experience and funding.

It is developing Vahana through its A³ (pronounced “A-cubed”) unit, which formally opened this year in San Jose, the heart of California’s tech community. Airbus made an initial $150 million funding commitment for its new venture capital unit, which is seeking out investments in disruptive technologies to speed up innovations in aerospace.

“The aircraft we’re building doesn’t need a runway, is self-piloted, and can automatically detect and avoid obstacles and other aircraft,” A³ chief executive Rodin Lyasoff wrote in September. “Designed to carry a single passenger or cargo, we’re aiming to make it the first certified passenger aircraft without a pilot.”

The project hopes to fly a full-size prototype by the end of 2017 and eventually have something it can sell by 2020, Lyasoff wrote.

 

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