Airbus Group’s urban mobility division predicts that by 2030, the percentage of people residing in cities will rise to 60%, compared to 50% today. Cities are growing very rapidly worldwide, and traffic will only get worse. To resolve the problem of urban congestion, the aircraft giant is developing three solutions, and they all are related to the skies.
Airbus preparing sky-based solutions
At present, the company is working on single-passenger vehicles, autonomous buses and package delivery drones. CEO Tom Enders said in Munich at the DLD conference that he hopes the company will demonstrate a single person flying vehicle by the year’s end, reported Reuters.
“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. With flying, you don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads,” Enders said. “If we ignore these developments, we will be pushed out of important segments of the business.”
Last year, Airbus created a new division called Urban Air Mobility to explore concepts such as a vehicle to transport individuals or a helicopter-style vehicle that can transport several passengers in one go.
Is the concept viable?
Airbus’ concept for a flying car is a single-passenger self-piloted vehicle that it has named Vahana. It sees it as a viable solution for gridlocked commuters. Enders wishes to test this vehicle by the end of 2017, which division CEO Rodin Lyasoff believes is feasible.
Lyasoff said that many of the needed technologies have almost become available, including batteries, avionics and motors. He added that one of the challenges for the company is “reliable sense-and-avoid technology,” which has just started showing up in cars.
“In as little as 10 years, we could have products on the market that revolutionize urban travel for millions of people,” Lyasoff said.
Like car-sharing schemes, people will be able to book the vehicle using an app, making the service easily accessible.
Airbus’ other sky-related project includes package delivery drones. In this, it envisions huge fleets of parcel delivery drones, but it will not get into the package delivery business. Rather, it will serve retailers like Amazon and delivery services like DHL. Its other idea of autonomous buses is based on a concept of multiple-passenger, electrically-operated flying vehicles.