‘Oh yeah, and pigs might fly’, is a saying that is often used. We know that pigs will never fly, but what about cars? It has been announced that European aerospace manufacturer Airbus Group has made plans to develop and build a car that is practical and flies.
Being built at Airbus’s advanced projects and partnerships division based in Silicon Valley, the vehicles although being described as ‘flying cars’, will most likely have much more in common with multicopter drones than traditional automobile or fixed-wing aircraft designs.
The plans are for these flying cars to be built and be powered by battery electrics. Airbus also envisaged the vehicles to be fully autonomous, avoiding the need for skilled pilots.
The company is calling its work on these vehicles ‘Project Vahana’, and it is setting an aggressive timeframe to create a viable product.
A debut functioning prototype vehicle is expected from Airbus by the end of the year, and the company believes that it can have a mass-market vehicle seeing significant sales within a decade.
A^3 CEO Rodin Lyasoff said: “Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors, and avionics are most of the way there.”
“In as little as ten years, we could have products on the market that revolutionise urban travel for millions of people.”
Half of the reason Airbus has decided to push so hard to build this vehicle is that, it’s not the only company interested in this market.
Ehang, a Chinese company has already produced a flying car prototype and has received approval to begin testing it in Nevada. Other companies are following similar trajectories.
Despite the untested nature of the technology, Airbus does not seem concerned with regulators making its creations illegal to fly.
Matthieu Repellin an Investment Partner at Airbus Ventures, said: “The traditional car industry said exactly the same thing about self-driving cars. Regulations are only a temporary barrier to entry.”
One use that could come of these vehicles is as a flying taxi service. Airbus hopes for the process to work with being hailed by an app.
The company believes that through such a service, it will be able to relieve inner-city congestion in some of the world’s most crowded megacities.