Airbus CEO Tom Enders has said his company’s self-piloted flying vehicle could be ready for testing by the end of the year.
As Reuters reports, the company plans to test the prototype with the eventual aim of using such vehicles to overcome gridlock on roads.
Airbus’s new Urban Air Mobility division was created last year to research airborne alternatives to ground transport, including a helicopter capable of carrying multiple riders which can be booked using an app.
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But the vehicle Enders refers to is reportedly designed to transport a single-person and will be capable of flying itself.
The CEO told the DLD digital tech conference in Munich: “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.”
A concept design for Airbus’s CityAirbus project
Enders also added that he was aware of the company’s obligation to ensure the airborne vehicles were environmentally friendly to avoid them adding to pollution problems.
Explaining the benefits of developing such technology, he also added how airborne vehicles would reduce the pressure on local authorities and governments to invest in road infrastructure.
“With flying, you don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads,” he added.
Airbus looks to be moving to capitalise on the increasing popularity of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence, as auto-makers and tech companies, including Tesla and Google, develop their own self-driving systems.
The company currently has three projects in development at its Urban Air Mobility division, including the Skyways project which involves testing autonomous drones with a view to eventually developing a new airborne transport system.
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Let us know what you think of Airbus’s ambitions in the comments.