Vahana has taken its first test flight in Oregon! This is Airbus’ first air taxi. Is the future of hovercars already nearly here? Via the Verge:
Airbus conducted the first successful test flight of its Vahana electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft on January 31st, the aerospace giant announced. At 8:52AM, the full-scale vehicle reached a modest height of five meters (16 feet) before descending safely. The self-piloted flight only lasted 53 seconds, but it is a reminder that “flying taxi” mobility projects we hear a lot about these days, while sounding ludicrous, can’t be easily dismissed as vaporware.
Airbus has said it wants to build a fleet of autonomous, multirotor eVTOL aircraft that can be used to fly from rooftop to rooftop in dense cities where traffic is often at a standstill. The project launched in early 2016 as one of the first pursuits of A³ (pronounced “A cubed”), its Silicon Valley-based subsidiary. (Vahana is a Sanskrit word that refers to the vehicle or mount of a god.) Since then, the company has reported regular updates, including a concept video of the user experience.
VAHANA IS SANSKRIT FOR THE VEHICLE OR MOUNT OF A GOD
The full-scale demonstrator, dubbed Alpha One, was originally scheduled to take flight by the end of 2017. The vehicle was recently moved from California to a new flight test center in Pendleton, Oregon, where it conducted this week’s demonstration. A³ has said it plans to have a production-ready version by 2020. According to the company, Alpha One is 20.3 feet wide, 18.7 feet long, 9.2 feet tall, and weighs 1,642 pounds.