The future is almost here.
Vahana, the on-demand aviation project operated by Airbus, has released this glimpse at what it’ll actually be like to use their flying taxi service.
In the concept video, ‘Deborah’ needs to travel from the Hotel de Anza in San Jose to Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco. Rather than getting stuck in traffic, she takes out her phone and hails an electric, autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
The vehicle automatically performs its safety checks, and after Deborah confirms that she’s ready for take-off, she’s on her way.
Total flight time? 18 minutes.
Total fare? $77.
This isn’t science fiction. Airbus will be showing off the Vahana project at the Paris Air Show this week, joining other multinationals in a push to make urban aviation a reality.
Uber recently announced plans to deploy flying taxis in Dallas-Fort Work, Texas, and Dubai by 2020. The company envisions these VTOL taxis as an “affordable form of daily transportation for the masses” that will eventually be a cheaper option than owning a car.
If that’s too far away for you, the EHang 184, a flying taxi manufactured in China, is actually expected to start ferrying passengers between pre-determined checkpoints in Dubai as soon as July.
It’s not a slam dunk that we’re going to be able to fly over the Western Freeway anytime soon. The technology might be here now, but air safety laws will still need to be changed, and passengers will still have to accept the idea of autonomous urban flights in large enough numbers to make the idea viable.
But it sure feels like the future has never been closer…