A³, a subsidiary Airbus is working on a project of an unmanned flying taxi called Vahana since 2016. On January 31, 2018 the company has tested a full-size prototype, which was named Alpha One.
The aircraft was 5 meters above the ground and hovered for 53 seconds. The engineers has performed a second launched the next day.
Zak Lavering , the chief engineer of the project believes that the launch is an important historical event for the company, since the development has finally took off and successfully completed the flight.
The representatives of the US Federal Aviation Administration attended the launch in addition to the project engineers and A³ managers.
The ultimate goal of A³ is to build a full-fledged passenger electric VTOL-aircraft designed for one passenger or some cargo. The new transport will be integrated into urban environment so the dimensions are comparable to the dimensions of a large car: 6.2 meters in length, 5.7 meters in width and 2.8 meters in height. Power electric motors located on the front and rear wings allows you to take on up to 745 kilograms. Vahana will move along the established routes and the autopilot will allow to skirt the arising obstacles.
A³ will continue testing in the next three months. The final test will be a flight, where the vehicle will overtake a sudden obstacle after take-off and one more at the end of the route when landing.
Air taxi is a popular idea and many startups try to be the first on the new market of mobile air transportation. Volocopter and Ehang have already teste their full sized models.