Commercial jet-builder, Airbus, has released pictures of the fully autonomous pure-electric sky taxi it hopes will be in service by 2020.
Called the Vahana, named after a Hindu deity, the new self-flying alternative to taking the Metro is the work of Airbus’ Silicon Valley subsidiary, A3.
Scheduled to begin testing in 2017 with a full-size model, A3 has announced that it is confident demonstrators will be in use by 2020 ahead of sales beginning shortly after.
Created to be as light and small as possible, the concept has been designed to carry just one passenger for short cross city journeys.
According to its designers, the fact that the Vahana is fully autonomous has actually helped Airbus simplify its design and lower manufacturing costs, compared to creating a small manned aircraft.
As well as developing the aircraft itself, A3 says it has already begun lobbying for a regulatory overhaul to allow easier certification and operation of automated aircraft within urban areas.
Neither Airbus nor A3 has revealed exact specification for its Vahana but has hinted that the production model could be safer than any of its current aircraft thanks to small ballistic parachutes that can deploy instantly, even at very low altitudes.
The race to produce the world’s first mass-produced flying car has intensified.
Until now, it was thought Google co-founder Larry Page might be in the lead, following the revelation the billionaire had invested hundreds of millions in a pet project to develop his own prototype small plane.
In June Chinese drone-maker, Ehang, announced it too had begun testing in the US with scale models of a self-flying passenger drone, but it’s thought both Page and Ehang will struggle to match the resources (and budget) Airbus has.
In particular, it’s thought the plane-maker’s huge investment in advanced lightweight composites could give help its sky taxi weigh-in significantly less than its rivals, providing for a far greater pure-electric range.