The age of George Jetson and Minority Report is near — that is if you actually believe Airbus Group CEO, Tom Enders.
In a report from Reuters jet airliners transportation giant, Airbus, plans to test prototypes for a self-piloted flying car by the end of the year. Plans for the futuristic venture were first announced in September 2016 through “Project Vahana,” an internal project designed to test the viability of this revolutionary endeavor and refine prototypes for more urban air transportation.
At a tech conference in Munich, Enders told Reuters that the company was in its experimental phase but taking the development very seriously.
“One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground,” said Enders.
For those curious how an airborne taxi will work, reports state that they will take off and land similar to a helicopter without the need for a runway and take advantage of the efficiency of winged airplanes while in flight. Moreover, it would be able to detect and avoid obstacles with other aircraft, while being an effective method of transportation, carrying single passenger or cargo.
Rodin Lyasoff, CEO of Airbus’s advanced projects group wrote at Project Vahana that they are aiming to make it the first certified passenger aircraft without a pilot.
While the company will not disclose how much they will invest in urban mobility, they are looking to invest in new technologies like autonomous driving and artificial intelligence to usher in an era of flying cars that benefit society.
“If we ignore these developments, we will be pushed out of important segments of the business,” said Enders.
The introduction of flying cars will not only help to avoid gridlock on city roads but save money for a fickle economy and reduce costs for city infrastructure planners as Enders says you wouldn’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads.
Though the company plans a testable prototype by year’s end, it will not have a model ready for public demonstration until 2020.