Imagine hurrying to the airport and instead of suffering for hours in a traffic jam, you simply board an electric rotorcraft that will take you to your destination in five minutes. Plus, you shouldn’t pay more for the whole thing than for a taxi. You don’t even have to go so far into the future to make it happen, as Airbus Helicopters has also made a working demonstration of this “flying electric taxi” from CityAirbus, and its regulation is already being negotiated with official bodies. The company hopes that after 2025, the first CityAirbus will be able to take to the skies en masse, bringing a serious blood refresh in urban transport.
Flight for the price of a taxi.
The CityAirbus is a four-seater, electric, eight-rotor aircraft that takes off and down vertically. It was invented on a pre-determined route capable of carrying four passengers, primarily for shorter distances, and would travel within a city. The vehicle is self-driving, but in the test phase there will still be a person on board who can intervene if necessary. The development is a joint project of Airbus Helicopters and Siemens. Its range, on the other hand, will be much shorter and its application will be much less versatile than that of a helicopter.
As the vehicle is still under development, the final version of the demonstration piece will also be safer and more comfortable than Airbus plans. Another self-propelled rotor, called Vahana, is also being tested by Airbus, and the lessons learned from this project will be incorporated into CityAirbus.
You can already fly in the next decade.
The Airbus Helicopters project is not primarily struggling with technical barriers, but with the lack of regulation in most cities for passenger traffic using self-propelled aircraft. The company believes that this is not very likely to happen before 2025, but negotiations on this are already underway. it will travel on pre-designated trajectories, such as from the city center to the airport. Swivels are likely to spread in congested Latin American and Asian cities in the first place. Operators can be transport companies, public transport organizations and even Airbus itself.
The CityAirbus will also be designed to make the vehicle no more expensive than a ground taxi. Airbus Helicopters are not intended to replace buses with aircraft, for example, but are aimed at anyone who would board a normal taxi.
The future in the air?
In addition to CityAirbus and Vahana, mentioned above, Airbus is also working Pop.Up Nexten: on a modular vehicle capable of both ground and flight, to be built with Audi,on SkyWays, a drone-based parcel delivery project
and Voomon, a community, helicopter-sharing app (roughly like the Oscar, only with rotary wings) – already live in Mexico City.
In addition to Airbus, many other companies are experimenting with next-generation cargo and passenger drones, electric helicopters, just to name a few:
Natilus, which would, for example, build a specially designed rigid-wing aircraft capable of carrying only cargo, of which a dozen could be piloted remotely by a pilot, Volans would replace the battery-based operation of drones with new types of gears, so they would be able to carry much higher loads, much longer distances.
And Matternet would simply specialize in transporting devices that are of high value or urgent to transport, such as medical aids, and this can be done more or less with existing technologies.