The Netherlands-based Airbus Group (EPA:AIR) lifted the curtain quietly on its ambitious “Vahana” project where they will develop pilotless passenger aircrafts for individual consumers. When launched, these will be air taxis, much like the Uber’s on roads, but these crafts will be able to fly on their own. No drivers or pilots are needed.
So the next time there is high traffic, you can simply fly over it. Science fiction?
Airbus Posts the First Details
Airbus has posted the first conceptual rendering of these crafts recently. The drawings reveal that these crafts will be able to land and take off vertically, much like the helicopters of today. Each of the tilting wings will have four electric motors. The passenger canopy will retract like helmets on a motorcycle.
Rodin Lyasoff, the project’s Chief Executive says, “The aircraft we’re building doesn’t need a runway, is self-piloted, and can automatically detect and avoid obstacles and other aircraft”. They can both carry cargo and single passengers.
If it sees daylight, these are going to be the first pilotless aircrafts.
A rival of the Chicago, USA-based Boeing (NYSE:BA), Airbus is known for their huge double-decker A380 jetliners that can carry hundreds of passengers.
However, with the Vahana project, the business is getting into the individual flying space, which can one day become huge. It’s a business of the future that has seen a lot of speculation. Many players have been doing their own research. But Airbus has three distinct advantages – funding, technology, and experience.
Vahana, incidentally, is a Sanskrit word, meaning a vehicle, which is used by Hindu Gods for flying. It is often a mythical or animal entity.
Vahana Aircrafts Developed in California
Airbus is building the Vahana crafts at the San Jose plant of A3, a subsidiary of the business. $150 million has already been invested in the project, so it is clear that Airbus is taking this very seriously. They have also asked for investments from other groups because Airbus (EPA:AIR) believes that this will speed up aerospace innovations.
It is going to be fully electric. The first full prototype of these personal pilotless aircrafts is expected to be released by the end of next year. It will take three more years for the demonstrator to come out.
Carmakers Honda and Toyota too have got into aviation in recent times. Honda launched their first private jets last year. It took them three decades.