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An Airbus flying car prototype will be airborne by end of 2017

by Mark Tyson on 17 January 2017, 10:01

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The Airbus Group plans to have a flying car prototype that it can demonstrate by the end of the year. While many tech companies are striving to develop self-driving cars that hug the roads the aerospace giant is looking to make its flying cars autonomous, and app summonable. Airbus reckons that roads are too congested and need billions in infrastructure development so its flying autonomous cars will be the future of urban transport.

Airbus image

Reuters was at the DLD digital tech conference in Munich listening to Airbus CEO Tom Enders talk about plans for the Airbus Urban Air Mobility division. "One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground," Enders told the DLD attendees. With this in mind Airbus is readying a clean-tech powered autonomous flying car.

Airbus will be making more than one kind of flying car but the first prototype vehicle will be designed for single-person transport. The demonstration of such a vehicle in flight is intended to be provided before 2017 is out. It is envisioned that people won't buy these flying cars but will book them using an app for specific journeys in the city.

Enders talked up the potential of flying cars and the positive aspects of this mode of transport. He said there is little or no congestion in the air, and that today's road cars require "billions [invested] into concrete bridges and roads".

Airbus is the world's largest maker of commercial helicopters and aims to build autonomous flying cars before a new entrant from the tech industry can act, disrupt, and succeed in a similar endeavour.

HEXUS Forums :: 17 Comments

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Scale model? and no.
So I should reserve Air-Uber as a registeted trademark now? :D

Seriously though, even if the tech is feasible (and it probably is, or is nearly there) I can see other obstacles, one of which is regulatory, another of which is customer acceptance, and a third of which is liability if, or rather when, one of these comes down on someone.

It's bad enough with ground cars when they, or their drivers, screw up and hurt or kill some innocent third party, but they have an individual in charge to hold accountable. If these are self-piloted, you can't hold the (probably dead) passenger liable, who who is at fault, AirBus or “Air-Uber”.

While they may get small numbers of these approved, in a few places, I reckon they've mountains to climb before they're as ubiquitous as current cars, and our skies are full of them buzzing around. And meantime, those billions still need to be spent on roads and concrete bridges.

Events may prove me wrong, and indeed I rather hope so ‘cos I like the idea, but I doubt I’ll see this …. erm …. ‘take off’ in my lifetime. :D
A flying car prototype (AeroMobil) already exists. The issue is that it looks like both a terrible car and a terrible plane. From the vague information so far, it looks like they're trying to make a small V-22 Osprey. Which is actually really cool.
Surely it being self-piloting is a good thing. Road-rage drivers in flying objects sounds a lot worse than even normal ground-based drivers. This is also one of the best things about ‘robot-cars’ as we already know how bad many drivers are.
This thing is likely to make the most inefficient 4x4 monster truck car look efficient though. Although perhaps like some crazy tall fuming Victoria factory chimney it will spew it's pollutants over a very wide area somewhat masking cause and effect.
Time to replace the gentle hum of distance traffic to the roar of thrusters needed to lift a ton off the ground.

The amount of energy required to fly is massive compared to shunting something on wheels along a flat surface. They might be able to technically produce vehicles like this, but that's been done before, it's the practicalities around running them that will be the issue.

New York has some airship moorings on some of the old/early sky-scrapers, but apart from that, does anybody know of a major city that has convenient places to land without scattering or roasting everything underneath?