Posted: Tue 16th Aug 2016

Are Airbus engineers working on a way to beat A55 traffic?

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Aug 16th, 2016

Getting stuck in traffic for hours on end along the A55 could be a thing of the past thanks to Airbus.

Colleagues of Broughton Airbus workers based at their A3 innovation outpost in Silicon Valley, San Francisco are working on a new autonomous flying vehicle — dubbed “Vahana” by boffs.

The radical new autonomous flying vehicle platform is being designed for individual passenger and cargo transport and aimed at helping relieve traffic problems in urban area’s

Flight tests of the first vehicle prototype are expected to start at the end of 2017.

Project executive Rodin Lyasoff says:

“Many of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there,” explains the engineer.

Vahana will need reliable sense-and-avoid technology which is now making its way into cars, yet no mature airborne solutions currently exist.

“That’s one of the bigger challenges we aim to resolve as early as possible,” says Lyasoff.

Transport service providers are one target group for such vehicles, the system could operate similarly to car-sharing applications, with the use of smartphones to book a vehicle.

“We believe that global demand for this category of aircraft can support fleets of millions of vehicles worldwide,” estimates Lyasoff.



Lyasoff believes the concept could be a reality in a fairly short space of time:

“In as little as ten years, we could have products on the market that revolutionise urban travel for millions of people.”

A3 is powering ahead with Vahana and as is typical for Silicon Valley, the company thinks in terms of weeks, not years.

Officially underway since February 2016, the project’s team of internal and external developers and partners have agreed on a vehicle design and is beginning to build and test vehicle subsystems.

The challenge of flying autonomous vehicles over urban areas is summed up neatly by Bruno Trabel from Airbus Helicopters:

“No country in the world today allows drones without remote pilots to fly over cities – with or without passengers.”

The engineer leads the Skyways project, which aims to help evolve current regulatory constraints.

In February, Airbus Helicopters and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) signed a memorandum of understanding allowing Airbus Helicopters to test a drone parcel delivery service on the campus of the National University of Singapore in mid-2017.


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