Airbus ‘flying car’ prototype ready by end of 2017

Airbus Group, a commercial aircraft provider with a strong presence in the Middle East, has revealed it is on-track to test a prototype for a self-piloted flying car, as a way of avoiding gridlock on city roads by the end of the year.

An artists impression of Airbus’ self-piloted flying car

Since forming an Urban Air Mobility division last year, Airbus Group has been exploring concepts such as a self-piloting air-borne vehicle to transport individuals, and a helicopter-style vehicle that can carry multiple riders, since last year. People would book the use of these electric-powered vehicles using a smart app, similar to car-sharing schemes.

“One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground,” Reuters quoted Airbus CEO Tom Enders as saying at the DLD conference in Munich earlier this week. He added that he hoped Airbus could fly a demonstration vehicle for single-person transport by the end of the year.

“We are in an experimentation phase, and we take this development very seriously,” he said. He added that Airbus recognised such technologies would have to be clean to avoid further polluting congested cities.

“With flying, you don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads,” he said, commenting on how using the skies could also reduce costs for city infrastructure planners.

Enders said Airbus, as the world’s largest maker of commercial helicopters, wanted to invest to make the most of new technologies such as autonomous driving and artificial intelligence, to usher in what amounts to an era of flying cars.

“If we ignore these developments, we will be pushed out of important segments of the business,” he said.

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