Flying cars to be tested by end of 2017 0

Flying-cars-to-be-tested-by-end-of-2017Flying cars are one step closer to being a reality, after one of the world’s largest aerospace companies – Airbus – announced plans to begin testing a prototype by the end of the year. In a move that could be a significant step towards easing congestion on urban roads, the company’s chief executive Tom Enders, announced at a technology conference in Germany that a small prototype was due to begin testing by the end of the year.

In 2016, Airbus created a new division called Urban Air Mobility, to research ideas such as a vehicle to transport individuals or a helicopter style vehicle that would be able to transport multiple riders. The ultimate aim would see users book the transport using an app, in the same way as car-sharing schemes are booked.

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Airbus has been developing “vertical take-off and landing” (VTOL) technology that would ultimately be capable of picking up and dropping off passengers in busy, built up urban zones. It plans to put them into production by 2021.

For decades, flying cars have been the stuff of science fiction, but investment in the tech has been slow up until now. This move by Airbus, and a similar plan announced by Google founder Larry Page and Chinese company E-Hang sees the concept starting to gain momentum.

Car sharing service Uber has admitted to researching VTOL as an alternative way for passengers to get around, and companies such as Amazon are developing delivery drones.

“One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground,” Enders told the DLD conference in Munich.

“We are in an experimentation phase; we take this development very seriously.”

The next decade should see driverless cars revolutionise the car industry, and Enders believes the technology will have a similar impact on airborne technology.

At present, Airbus is the largest producer of commercial helicopters in the world, giving it a head start over competitors in any potential future aviation transport segment.

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

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