Vahana: The flying taxi of Airbus
Nowadays, big cities must deal with traffic management. Indeed, there is too much vehicles and it creates traffic jams. To solve the problem, Airbus wants to develop a flying taxi called Vahana.
Vahana: electric powered
Vahana will be powered by electricity. The start-up A^3 (owned by Airbus) have imagined a flying car mooved by 8 motors and 8 pivoting rotors allowing the car for a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) like a helicopter and a horizontal fly like an aircraft. With a single place in the vehicle, Vahana is a drone: it checks safety protocols itself before the take-off, can detect obstacles on the way and adapt the path. The car can also be piloted by the person present in the cockpit.
The problems encountered by a flying car
The biggest is the flying authorization. Besides, to fly with a drone in France you need an authorization, granted if you respect a couple of conditions like a maximum drone weight of 8 kilos. Moreover, there is no special regulation for drones transporting passengers and the government could consider it as an aircraft (it would be forbidden to fly over areas like Paris for example).
In addition, the security is also a big topic. Airbus will need to take into consideration the cybersecurity but also the passenger security in case of a breakdown and the security of the people who stayed on the ground.
A tough competition
In the flying car sector, the Chinese company Ehang is more advanced than Airbus. While Airbus has made its flying test without a pilot (53 seconds at 5 meters in the USA); Ehang has already made many flying tests in the city of Guangzhou (China) and transported a total of 40 persons. Some other big companies have also flying car projects like Uber (in collaboration with the NASA), Boeing and Volocopter.
Despite an inadequate regulation of the drone sector for the moment, Airbus plans to launch the sale of Vahana in 2020.