Our future air taxi? Vahana self-flying machine takes off, hovers, lands

Our future air taxi? Vahana self-flying machine takes off, hovers, lands

What was that hovering, helicopter-like, over the tarmac in Pendleton, Oregon? A flight test of sorts has transportation watchers wondering if we are looking at a significant new chapter in personal transportation, especially for short-distance travel in urban areas.

This January test was to see how a self-flying aircraft was shaping up, also being described in some sites as the flying taxi. If successful, it may be a way to beat late-afternoon nightmares, pileups, closed bridges, short fuses and road rage.

"At 8:52AM on January 31, 2018 in Pendleton, Oregon," the aircraft reached a height of 5 meters (16 feet) before descending safely."

This is the Airbus Vahana project. Its team has a vision of "large-scale automated flight within urban environments."

"Airbus aims to create self-flying aircraft that can go four times faster than road traffic, with a range of 50 miles," said Seeking Alpha on Thursday.

Vahana's test flight took place last month. The test involved an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

Reports elsewhere said this was a vertical take-off and landing that lasted for 53 seconds.

The video was just recently presented on the flying taxi mission. The Vahana team successfully flew their all-electric aircraft, which hovered above the ground briefly, but it was still a 53-second flight all on its own, without the input of a human operator, said Mariella Moon in Engadget. So what's the big deal?

Moon said, "it was a huge deal for the team and the company. If they succeed, Airbus could eventually use the drone for an autonomous passenger network that will give people a way to hail a flying taxi to get to where they want to go."

The aircraft has 8 propellers. As Fast Company described, "For most of a journey, Vahana's wings will be tilted horizontal to the ground, like a regular airplane. But on takeoff and landing, they tilt into vertical orientation." Fast Company said, "The aerospace giant is developing the air taxi out of its startup-style A3 Silicon Valley skunkworks."

"We are the Silicon Valley outpost of Airbus," according to a project page. The team takes on Vahana as a project developing the first electric, self-piloted #VTOL passenger aircraft."

Specifications for the Vahana test flown on January 31, 2018 are width: 6.2 m / 20.3 ft; length: 5.7 m / 18.7 ft; height: 2.8 m / 9.2 ft; and takeoff weight: 745 kg / 1642 lb.

So what's next for this project? Zach Lovering, project executive, wrote earlier this month that "the Vahana team will continue development and perform further flight tests to transition and forward flight."

He announced their new partner for motors, California-based MAGicALL. The latter makes components such as motors, generators, inductors and transformers.

"We will begin using the MAGicALL motors soon," he said.

Now over to the user side of the equation.

How easily will people, no matter how weary of road traffic delays, warm to the this alternative way to get from point A to point B?

TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington commented on the future. "Personal autonomous vehicles still seem pretty far out there, but company's like Airbus are investing in its potential, and leading technologists like Sebastian Thrun think they could even leapfrog autonomous cars in terms of develop pace and practical usability, so watch this space."


Explore further

Airbus tests self-flying taxi

More information: vahana.aero/vahanas-first-flig … success-ade26d26ba02

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Feb 24, 2018
Absolutely not! We do not need more vehicles in yet another environment emitting noise and making everyone's life just that much worse. Do these idiots really think their nifty little toy is benign? If it becomes popular just think of the noise of thousands of little helicopters flying around day and night. Cities are already noisy enough and they aren't getting any quiter. Noise pollution erodes our lives, even though many people seem to be oblivious as to just how much that occurs. Nix this project before it goes any further.

Feb 24, 2018
They are missing the total flight time between charges.
too much redundancy...

Feb 24, 2018
Nice, disregard all the old ladies above with wet diapers, this tech is the G-O-T-Y and will revolutionize our way of commuting...soon. Though it will carry a multirotor pilot/ga pilot at all times with the passenger.

Feb 25, 2018
Seriously? We've been promised flying cars for decades (as well amphibian AND autonomous vehicles) by various publications yet it has not happened. Perhaps the biggest hang-up is the high cost of infrastructure. We barely are able to keep our roads drivable yet what is being proposed to enable these vehicles to be viable would cost many times what we are spending per mile right now. Then we must address the high cost of the vehicles themselves vs. what we have now; other than a few people willing to buy them for vanity purposes most of us are unwilling to do so.

Feb 26, 2018
"We've been promised flying cars for decades (as well amphibian AND autonomous vehicles) by various publications yet it has not happened. Perhaps the biggest hang-up is the high cost of infrastructure."

Publications will write stuff in order to sell their papers. Note how scientists have NOT promised flying cars and whatnot for everyone during all this time.

" yet what is being proposed to enable these vehicles to be viable would cost many times what we are spending per mile right now"

How so? Air doesn't need upkeep (unlike roads)

"Then we must address the high cost of the vehicles themselves"

Since this is a cost that is being shouldered by the consumer (you pay for it if you want it) - what's the problem? This is not a cost that will be covered by taxes.

Feb 26, 2018

" yet what is being proposed to enable these vehicles to be viable would cost many times what we are spending per mile right now"

How so? Air doesn't need upkeep (unlike roads)

"Then we must address the high cost of the vehicles themselves"

"Since this is a cost that is being shouldered by the consumer (you pay for it if you want it) - what's the problem? This is not a cost that will be covered by taxes."


Exactly, i don't even want to think what 1000km of road cost (let alone all the mainettence on it over it's lifespan, Now think about the millions of km's of road already built ! !

Suddenly flying cars infrastructure seems to be a bargain at the dollar store in comparison ! Price will come down as manufacturing ramps up, Even now, the components of a multirotor can be made very cost effective.

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