In scheduling initial testing for 2018, Airbus hopes its self-piloted four-seater air vehicle will be in the sky by 2023. Dubbed CityAirbus, the environmentally friendly flying taxi is designed to make short journeys and enhance urban mobility.
In an announcement made on 3 October, Airbus stated its intention to launch its CityAirbus self-piloted flying taxi in 2023. The European aerospace firm has begun trialling the vehicle, which can carry several passengers, with the first test flights due to take place next year.
While CityAirbus will be pilotless, some of the tests – to be conducted with a full-scale demonstrator – will be piloted. This should help the manufacturers gain wider acceptance of the vehicle among future users, who may, initially at least, be reluctant to board an aircraft with no pilot.
15 minutes of airtime
The vehicle itself has a reassuringly familiar look, not unlike a helicopter. Its four horizontally positioned rotors are powered by eight electric motors designed by Siemens. Yet while the concept is green, performance will be somewhat limited. When travelling at its cruising speed of 120 km/h, CityAirbus can only stay airborne for a maximum of 15 minutes, meaning it will be able to cover distances up to 20 kilometres only.
That is not necessarily an obstacle to its success. As its name suggests, CityAirbus is primarily designed for use in urban environments, with most of its intended journeys being short in nature. The self-piloted vehicle also offers a number of advantages that could make up for any perceived shortcomings.
An extra dimension to city travel
Compact and boasting a low acoustic footprint, CityAirbus takes up very little space on the ground and has a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability. Its designers believe such features will allow it to blend in seamlessly with the urban landscape, and all at a low cost. Thanks to the machine’s design, it can be mass produced and remain profitable. And in adding a third dimension to urban travel, CityAirbus can open up access to areas poorly served by infrastructures on the ground.
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