Airbus to test self-piloted flying car prototype

Airbus Group plans to test a prototype of a self-piloted flying car that would avoid traffic snarls on roads by the end of the year, the aerospace group's chief executive said yesterday.

Airbus last year formed a division called Urban Air Mobility that would explore concepts such as a vehicle for transporting individuals or a helicopter-style vehicle capable of carrying multiple riders. The vehicle is intended to being booked using an app, similar to car-sharing schemes.

"One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground," Airbus CEO Tom Enders told the DLD digital tech conference in Munich. He added, he hoped that Airbus could fly a demonstration vehicle for single-person transport by the end of the year.

"We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously," he said. He added that Airbus recognised that such technologies would need to be clean so that they would not add to the pollution of congested cities.

He added that cars could also reduce costs for city infrastructure planners. "With flying, you don't need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads," he said.

While making its first commitment to the tech last August, the company said, it hoped to make flying, autonomous taxis. "Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there," Rodin Lyasoff the Airbus executive in charge of the project under development said.