Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Airbus will Build Self-Piloting VTOL ‘Air Taxis’ for Project Vahana

Like a chopper

(Photo : Airbus Group) Project Vahana VTOL air taxi

A subsidiary of Airbus Group that prides itself as "disruptors" plans to build a Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) single-passenger plane to be propelled by eight electric rotors.

The subsidiary named A3 (pronounced A cubed) will launch this VTOL plane that might one day be used for an Uber-like ride hailing service as part of "Project Vahana." Project Vahana is A3's self-piloted electric aircraft project.

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A3 is  the advanced projects and partnership outpost of Airbus Group in Silicon Valley. It says its mission is to define the future of flight.

"The mission of Airbus Group is to make things that fly. Our aim is to define the future of flight.

"We believe that the future is created through episodic disruption with intervening periods of incremental innovation. Our mission is to build the future of flight now, by disrupting Airbus Group and its competitors before someone else does."

Zach Lovering, Project Executive for Vahana, said A3 plans to have the production version of its VTOL aircraft (you can call it a sky car) ready in four years.

The Vahana VTOL will have a range long enough to fly over the city it operates in and have a speed twice as fast as cars. It can fly as high as 305 meters.

It will be equipped with Lidar, radar and digital cameras, which are standard on many self-driving cars, so it can safely deviate from its flight path if an obstacle gets in its way.

Vahana is a self-piloted flying vehicle for individual passenger and cargo transport. It seeks to advance automated electric VTOL flight for the emerging on-demand mobility market.

A3 recently awarded a Flight Test and Range Services contract to Modern Technology Solutions, Inc. (MTSI), and their partner, SOAR Oregon (SOAR).

The contract covers the prototype Alpha Phase, which seeks to identify and resolve major technical and certification risks, culminating in a flight test demonstration at the end of 2017. MTSI will lead the Flight Test effort, while their partner SOAR Oregon will provide test range support and other services.

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