Airbus self-piloted aircraft takes first flight

Airbus Vahana during its first flight test

French aerospace firm has announced the completion of the first successful test flight of its Vahana autonomous flying taxi. The first "fully self-piloted" test flight was completed at 8:52AM Pacific on Wednesday (31 January) at the Pendleton UAS Range in Pendleton, Oregon.

Aerospace giant Airbus has announced the first successful flight of its self-piloted flying auto in the USA state of Oregon. Following the initial hover flights, additional testing will include transitions and forward flight.

Vahana is a project developed at A³, the Silicon Valley branch of Airbus. The is first successful test flight is a milestone for the goal of the team working on the aircraft. The aircraft is 9.2 feet tall, 18.7 feet long, has width of 20.3 feet and weighs 1,642 lbs.

According to A3 the Vahana project aims to "democratize personal flight and answer the growing need for urban mobility by leveraging the latest technologies in electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision". The process of getting to this first test flight has spanned two years. If you have been living under a rock, Vahana is supposed to utilise Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) system, which is the most efficient way to pick up passengers in urban jungles. The air taxi is one example of how companies like Airbus are hoping to reinvent urban mobility.

The air taxis will take off and land vertically, thanks to tilting wings which are each equipped with four electric motors. There's room for a passenger under a canopy that retracts like a motorcycle helmet visor.

A³, pronounced A Cubed, had aimed to have a full-sized prototype in the air by the end of 2017. Dubbed "Alpha One", the aircraft was claimed to be airborne autonomously.

A commercial model is planned for sale by 2020.



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