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Airbus signs deal to start testing 'Project Vahana' prototype in Oregon next year

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Airbus’s vision for driverless flying taxis is one step closer to becoming a reality.

MTSI has been awarded awarded a ‘Flight Test and Range’ to test the single seater self-piloted flying vehicle that can carry both cargo and human passengers.

A³, the advanced projects and partnerships outpost of Airbus Group in Silicon Valley, unveiled plans for ‘Project Vahana’ earlier this year and says it hopes to have a full-sized prototype built by 2017 and a demonstration model by 2020.

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A³, the advanced projects and partnerships outpost of Airbus Group in Silicon Valley, unveiled plans for ‘Project Vahana’ earlier this year, and says it hopes to have a full-sized prototype built by 2017 and a demonstration model by 2020 . MTSI has been awarded awarded a ‘Flight Test and Range’ to test the single seater self-piloted flying vehicle

MEET AIRBUS’S VAHANA  

Project Vahana began earlier this year and is one of the first projects at A³, the advanced projects and partnerships outpost of Airbus Group in Silicon Valley.

The first conceptual renders have been revealed showing a sleek self-flying aircraft with room for one passenger who sits under a canopy that retracts similar to a motorcycle helmet visor.

Its also believed that the self-piloted aircraft will take off and land vertically, as there are helicopter-like struts, and tilting wings each with four electric motors.

The team at Vahana aims to have a full-sized prototype built by 2017 and a demonstration model by 2020.

SOAR Oregon, an economic development agency, has joined this endeavor and received a sub-contract from MTSI (Modern Technology Solutions).

SOAR will help test the vehicle that is designed to move both cargo and passengers at one of the three test sites in Oregon – Pendleton, Warm Springs and Tillamook.

MTSI states that the contract with Vahana covers the ‘Alpha Phase’ of the project.

MTSI will lead the flight test effort and SOAR Oregon will provide test range support and other services.

‘The MTSI team is proud to be selected as the flight test lead for Vahana,’ Civil and Commercial Director Paul Linnell said in a prepared statement. 

‘Vahana sought out industry partners with deep experience in flight test and unmanned aircraft test range services to support this innovate project and they found that in MTSI and SOAR Oregon.’

In addition to commercial markets, MTSI also provides engineering and technology solutions to the defense industry and intelligence community.  

Project Vahana began earlier this year and is one of the first projects at A³, the advanced projects and partnerships outpost of Airbus Group in Silicon Valley.

‘At Vahana, we are passionate about personal flight. The aircraft we’re building doesn’t need a runway, is self-piloted, and can automatically detect and avoid obstacles and other aircraft,’ A³ CEO Rodin Lyasoff wrote on the Vahana website.

‘Designed to carry a single passenger or cargo, we’re aiming to make it the first certified passenger aircraft without a pilot.’

The conceptual renders suggest that the air taxis will take off and land vertically, as there are helicopter-like struts, and tilting wings each with four electric motors, reports CNN Money.

And there is space for one passenger, who will sit under a canopy that retracts like a motorcycle helmet visor.  

Project Vahana began earlier this year and is one of the first projects at A³, the advanced projects and partnerships outpost of Airbus Group in Silicon Valley. There is space for one passenger, who will sit under a canopy that retracts like a motorcycle helmet visor

AIRBUS’ PROJECT CITYAIRBUS: SELF-FLYING TAXIS THAT ARE SUMMONED LIKE UBERS

Airbus is designing a fleet of self-flying taxis called CityAirbus, the firm announced in August.

The taxis will first be operated by a pilot, but will fly themselves once national regulations allow it.

As well as flying taxis, Airbus is also creating an electric, self-piloted aircraft in a project called Project Vahana. 

The idea is that the aircraft can be used for both commercial and personal use” 

In February, Airbus also announced a new project called ‘Skyways’ in which they are creating a parcel-delivery system above the University of Singapore campus. 

Airbus hopes to conduct its first flight tests on the University of Singapore campus by 2017.

‘Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there,’ Lyasoff said.

‘This is just starting to be introduced in cars, but no examples of it for aircraft currently exist.’

‘That’s one of the bigger challenges we aim to resolve as early as possible.’

The company thinks one way it could work would be for group vehicles, similar to car-sharing.

‘We believe that global demand for this category of aircraft can support fleets of millions of vehicles worldwide,’ Lyasoff said.

‘In as little as ten years, we could have products on the market that revolutionize urban travel for millions of people.’ 

SOAR Oregon, an economic development agency, will test the vehicle that is designed to move both cargo and passengers at one of the three test sites in Oregon – Pendleton, Warm Springs and Tillamook. The conceptual renders suggest that the air taxis will take off and land vertically, as there are helicopter-like struts, and tilting wings each with four electric motors

Officially underway since February, the project’s team of internal and external developers and partners have agreed on a vehicle design and is beginning to build and test vehicle subsystems. 

Airbus first announced plans for a separate self-flying vehicle in August, which they said will be called CityAirbus and passengers can summon vehicles with their smartphone.

Airbus said that the biggest challenge in creating the CityAirbus taxi, will be making it fly autonomously.

The taxi will first be operated by a pilot, but will become self-driving once national regulations allow it.

MTSI (Modern Technology Solutions) states that the contract with Airbus Group covers the ‘Alpha Phase’ of the project. MTSI will lead the flight test effort and SOAR Oregon will provide test range support and other services

While it might currently seem like something out of a science fiction film, Airbus CEO, Tom Enders, said: ‘It’s not crazy to imagine that one day our big cities will have flying cars making their way along roads in the sky.

Traffic during rush-hour can be a nightmare for commuters today, and with 60 per cent of the world’s population expected to live in cities by 2030, the problem is only going to grow. The French firm first announced plans for its flying taxis in August, which they said will be CityAirbus and passengers will be able summon these vehicles with their smartphone

‘In a not too distant future, we’ll use our smartphones to book a fully automated flying taxi that will land outside our front door – without any pilot.’

In February, Airbus also announced a new project called ‘Skyways’ in which they are creating a drone parcel-delivery system above the University of Singapore campus. 

The team hopes by demonstrating the safe operation of Skyways, this could help shape the regulatory framework for unmanned aircraft system operations, and potentially increase acceptance for passenger flight testing.

In February, Airbus also announced a new project called ‘Skyways’ in which they are creating a parcel-delivery system above the University of Singapore campus

Bangkok in Thailand is one of many cities which is notorious for huge traffic jams and delays getting from one place to another. However, by 2030, the population of Bangkok is set to hit 11.5 million which will further increase congestion. Airbus hopes to conduct its first flight tests on the University of Singapore campus by 2017

The idea of flying taxis brings to mind, The Jetsons, who live in a futuristic utopia in the year 2062, filled with elaborate robotic contraptions, aliens, holograms, and whimsical inventions like their flying car (pictured)

 

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