French aerospace giant Airbus wants to have an autonomous car in the air by the end of the year, according to the group’s chief executive, Tom Enders.
Airbus claims the autonomous flying car will alleviate traffic problems in major cities and could reduce infrastructure budgets for city planners, who won’t have to worry about bridges, traffic lights, or concrete roads.
“One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground,” said Enders at the DLD tech conference in Munich. “We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously,”
Airbus formed the Urban Air Mobility division last year, to start work on a prototype flying car. It hopes to test this by the end of the year, but Enders said it would most likely be 2020 before any commuters hop into a flying car.
Flying cars aren’t choppers
The company also plans to build a semi-autonomous flying car, so the whole project isn’t gutted if regulations say a driver must be able to control the vehicle.
Airbus has a new business plan for the flying cars, not at all like its commercial helicopters, which are sold at a price only few can afford. It wants to develop an Uber-like app for the flying cars, where commuters can rent the autonomous vehicle for a single ride.
Interestingly, Uber also wants to have a service for flying cars, using Airbus’ concept.
The flying car reality might only be a few years away, but with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) already struggling to regulate the drone market, it might be an intense fight to allow humans inside autonomous flying vehicles.