International aerodynamics corporation Airbus is at the forefront of the air and space travel industry. While currently focussed on setting up a drone delivery system in Singapore, the company is also looking into the development of a self-flying taxi service in a new venture called project Vahana. Despite the few kinks still to be ironed out in land-based autonomous transport, Airbus plans to begin testing its air-based equivalent as early as next year.
Developers behind the project envision an Uber-based system that will allow commuters to reserve a seat on one of the emission-free aircrafts via an app. Sharing a ride with other commuters could reduce the cost to the price of a standard taxi, making the service a viable travel option for the general public. The hovercraft-like vessels will fly above cities and dock at various helipad stations to drop off and pick up passengers.
The Airbus Group considers autonomous flying vehicles to be the future of urban mobility, which could revolutionise passenger and cargo transport. Project Vahana seems to be a reaction to escalating traffic congestion as more and more people flock to urban areas. According to Airbus, “by 2030, 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities”.
By taking public transport to the skies, project Vahana could relieve traffic congestion on road networks. However, there are still a lot of questions surrounding the new technology, this includes air and noise pollution, as well as safety issues and aviation regulations.