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Airbus expects to test by the end of the year a prototype of an autonomous flying car that could potentially help ease city traffic at some point in the future, Airbus Group chief executive Tom Enders said at a tech conference on Monday.
“One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground,” Enders told the DLD conference in Munich, as quoted by Reuters.
Although Airbus is only in an experimentation stage for such technology, it takes the development very seriously, Enders added, noting that these technologies would also need to be clean so as to avoid further pollution of cities.
Flying cars could also reduce construction costs for city infrastructure by billion of dollars, the manager said.
Airbus wants to invest in new technologies including autonomous cars and AI, because ignoring the era of new developments would drive Airbus out of “important segments of the business”, Enders added.
Airbus has several ambitious projects in the works aimed at reducing traffic jams in cities. Project Vahana, a self-piloted flying vehicle platform for individual passenger and cargo transport, expects to test its first vehicle prototype by the end of this year. Rodin Lyasoff, the CEO of the Airbus company working on the project, believes that many of the tech needed, including batteries and avionics, is already there, but admitted that the project requires reliable sense-and-avoid technology, and that currently, there aren’t mature airborne tech solutions for this.
“That’s one of the bigger challenges we aim to resolve as early as possible,” Lyasoff says in Airbus’ ‘Future of urban mobility’ plan.
The Skyways project under development by Airbus Helicopters is for a small parcel delivery service, and developers in France and Germany are working on an electrically-operated platform concept for multiple passengers, going by the working title CityAirbus.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.