Airbus reveals flying vehicle project called Vahana


Airbus has unveiled its flying vehicle project – a single-occupant, autonomously piloted aircraft that takes off and lands vertically.

Dubbed Vahana, the shape looks similar to flying car concepts. However, this vehicle is intended solely for flying use. There are eight rotors that can alter their angle depending on whether the vehicle is travelling horizontally or vertically.

There's only room for one passenger who enters via a canopy that lifts and retracts upwards like a helmet visor. The Vahana is intended to be used as an autonomous, flying taxi.

The project was created by A³, the Silicon Valley-based arm of the French aerospace company. CEO Robin Lyasoff said: "Beyond developing the vehicle itself, we're seeking to move key technology categories forward, foster development of the regulatory regime for the certification and operation of automated aircraft, and to otherwise nurture an ecosystem that will help enable the vertical cities of the future."

A³ wants to have a full-size, working prototype by 2017 and a demonstrator representative of the finished product by 2020.

The biggest obstacle faced by new types of flying vehicles such as this is regulation. Airspace is carefully guarded and it can be extremely difficult to gain permission for commercial flying. The strict control of airspace above major cities will be another major stumbling block faced by Airbus and the Vahana project.

However, Lyasoff says that as more products like his come to market, regulation will be forced to change to keep up.