Airbus plans to test autonomous 'flying car' prototype in 2017

Airbus group CEO Tom Enders reveals prototype 'flying car' with autonomous technology could be tested by year's end

Airbus Project Vahana

The Airbus Group plans to test a prototype self-piloted 'flying car’ by the end of 2017, the group’s CEO Tom Enders has announced at the DLD digital tech conference in Munich. Airbus sees small autonomous aircraft as a way to avoid gridlock on city roads in the future, as populations in urban areas swell.

Last year the company formed a new division called Urban Air Mobility, tasked with gazing into the future to develop new on-demand, smartphone app based air transport services. One of the concepts imagined by the new division included a new helicopter style vehicle capable of carrying multiple passengers around cities.

• Driverless cars: everything you need to know

At the forefront of the company’s efforts is A³, the aviation giant’s Silicon Valley outpost. Airbus has previously revealed A³ is responsible for a Project called Vahana: a self-piloted flying vehicle platform for individual passengers and cargo.

Speaking to the crowd assembled at the DLD conference, Airbus boss Enders told reporters "One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground,

"We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously."

While on-demand self-flying cars sound like a pipedream, Enders said the technology would be beneficial in the long term as it would mean city infrastructure planners “don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads”.

He also told those assembled at DLD that that Airbus, currently positioned as the world’s largest maker of commercial helicopters, would invest to make the most of new innovations such as autonomous driving and artificial intelligence – two technologies becoming increasingly important in the auto industry. 

Will our city skies be cluttered with personal flying craft in the future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Most Popular

New Range Rover Sport ride review
New Range Rover Sport - front tracking
Road tests

New Range Rover Sport ride review

We get taken for a blast around Goodwood motor circuit in the new Range Rover Sport
27 Jun 2022
New electric MG Cyberster roadster to take brand back to its roots
MG roadster exclusive image - front
News

New electric MG Cyberster roadster to take brand back to its roots

The all-electric two-seat MG sports car is poised to follow the likes of the MG TF and MGB, and our exclusive images preview how it could look
23 Jun 2022
Volkswagen Taigo vs Toyota C-HR: 2022 twin test review
Volkswagen Taigo vs Toyota C-HR - header
Car group tests

Volkswagen Taigo vs Toyota C-HR: 2022 twin test review

Small coupé-SUVs go head to head, as the new Volkswagen Taigo takes on the Toyota C-HR
25 Jun 2022