Will fly­ing tax­ies save us from rush hour?

Air­bus has car­ried out the first test flight of its fly­ing taxi that is to pre­vent traf­fic jams dur­ing rush hours and stop at the top of city sky­scrapers from 2020.

Science Illustrated - - SCIENCE UPDATE -

In a few years, you can fly across the city to ar­rive very quickly at your des­ti­na­tion. That is the prom­ise made by Air­bus and its Va­hana fly­ing taxi.

Air­bus in­tro­duced the plans in 2016, and now, the com­pany’s de­vel­op­ers have car­ried out the first pro­to­type test flight. The flight lasted 53 sec­onds and took place at an al­ti­tude of 5 m.

So, Air­bus has be­come a vi­tal player in the race to mar­ket a fly­ing taxi first. Ear­lier this year, a com­pany called Kitty Hawk car­ried out a test flight of its Cora project, and both Boe­ing and Uber have projects in the pipe­line.

Va­hana seats one pas­sen­ger, is elec­tri­cally pow­ered, and au­tonomous. Eight ro­tors lift and land the plane ver­ti­cally, and dur­ing hor­i­zon­tal flight, the ro­tors tilt to pro­duce propul­sion. A com­puter cal­cu­lates the route and makes cor­rec­tions for ob­sta­cles such as birds and other air tax­ies, en­sur­ing that the craft reaches its des­ti­na­tion fast and safely. In the event of an ac­ci­dent, a para­chute will un­fold, car­ry­ing the pas­sen­ger safely to the ground.

Ac­cord­ing to the de­vel­op­ers, a break­through as re­gards bat­ter­ies and light­weight ma­te­ri­als has made the dream come true. Bat­ter­ies have be­come lighter, stronger, and more re­li­able. More­over, com­pos­ites man­u­fac­tur­ing has be­come cheaper. The test ver­sion of Va­hana weighs 745 kg and has a wing span of 6.2 m.

The first test flight of the Va­hana fly­ing taxi lasted less than a minute and was car­ried out 5 m above the ground.

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