Airbus Looks To Test Flying Taxi Prototypes in 2017

Jan 19, 2017 06:40 AM EST | Ileen Jasmine

The European multinational aerospace and defense corporation, Airbus Group, announced earlier this week its plans to test the prototype for their autonomous airborne taxi for one passenger. Airbus is aiming to do this towards the end of 2017.

According to the aviation giant, flying taxis are the next logical step when it comes to urban transportation. Airbus hopes to develop a network of these vehicles which can be hailed using an app.

As part of the company's Urban Air Mobility division, the product vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle would be using multiple tilt-rotors to take off and land like a helicopter. Aside from that, the vehicle would fly more like a propellor-driven airplane instead of a helicopter.

As of the moment, the full design schematics of the flying taxi prototype has yet to be released. However, it is highly possible that the first prototype will use four rotors. According to reports, the prototype will probably look more like Ehang's quadcopter-style drone. The quadcopter-style drone is currently in flight testing.

At the DLD Digital Tech Conference in Munich, Airbus CEO Tom Enders said, "One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground." Enders also mentioned Airbus' hopes to produce aircraft for short flights by the year 2021.

In an interview with Reuters, Enders also revealed more about the flying taxi project in which he stated, "We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously." He also added, "If we ignore these developments, we will be pushed out of important segments of the business."

Right now, there is no official word on how much Airbus is willing to invest in these flying taxi technology. But Enders revealed that it is the company's intention to "make the most" of these emerging transportation technologies, "If we ignore these developments, we will be pushed out of important segments of the business," Enders said.

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