Airbus is developing a prototype for a flying car which it says will be ready for flight testing by the end of 2017.
The French aerospace giant said that rush-hour traffic is making commuting by car unbearable and that the problem is growing. It said that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in cities – 10% more than today.
To address this issue, Airbus said it wanted to make the “dream of all commuters and travellers come true” and create cars which can fly over traffic jams at the push of a button.
It said that the new “Vahana” self-piloted flying vehicle platform would be for individual passenger and cargo transport.
Airbus chief executive Rodin Lyasoff said that although the concept of flying cars sounds ambitious making them is feasible.
“Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there,” he explained.
But he said that Vahana also required reliable sense-and-avoid technology and while this was just starting to be introduced in cars, no mature airborne solutions exist.
“That’s one of the bigger challenges we aim to resolve as early as possible,” he said.
He said that transport service providers were a target group for such vehicles, saying the system could operate similarly to car-sharing applications, with the use of smartphones to book a vehicle.
“We believe that global demand for this category of aircraft can support fleets of millions of vehicles worldwide,” said Lyasoff.
Airbus said as high numbers of vehicles are produced, development, certification, and manufacturing costs would fall. It said the project had been underway since February 2016 and the project’s team of internal and external developers and partners had agreed on a vehicle design and was beginning to build and test vehicle subsystems.
“In as little as 10 years, we could have products on the market that revolutionise urban travel for millions of people,” said Lyasoff.