You heard right – half a century on from The Jetsons, aerospace giant Airbus expects to begin tests of a flying car called Project Vahana this year.
Airbus chief executive officer Tom Enders talked about the move at the DLD digital tech conference in Munich this week, saying the company had established a unit called Urban Air Mobility to look at vehicles for individuals or groups. The plan would be to book the vehicle using smartphones, similar to ride-sharing schemes.
The Airbus Group magazine Forum reports that Airbus is trying to make the dreams of all commuters and travellers come true.
Increasing urbanisation means increasing traffic gridlock, so Airbus is developing three projects to relieve congestion, the magazine revealed.
Project Vahana is a self-piloted vehicle for individual passengers and cargo, and Airbus believes the ‘flying car’ could be on the market in as little as 10 years, with global demand eventually supporting fleets of millions worldwide.
Airbus is also working on a Skyways project, talking to aviation bodies to overcome regulatory constraints (at present drones are not allowed to fly over cities, let alone flying cars).
Finally, Airbus Helicopters has been working on the CityAirbus, an aerial vehicle with several propellers, which would carry multiple passengers. Initially it would have a pilot but would eventually become autonomous.
The CityAirbus would also be booked via an app, and stop at the nearest helipad. Airbus says a flight would cost nearly the same as a taxi ride. Imagine navigating a new city by flying over it! And no more getting stuck in traffic on the way to the hotel after a long-haul flight.
The race is on for flying cars, with companies such as e-volo, Joby Aviation, EHang, Zee.Aero, Aurora Flight Sciences and NASA reportedly working on projects.
The future may already be here.
* Featured image: Airbus/S. Ramadier