Testing on the airborne transport will begin before the year is out...
Sick of getting stuck in traffic making small talk with a chatty taxi driver?
Plans are afoot at Airbus to make that irritating situation a thing of the past. The group has announced its intentions to start testing a self-piloted flying taxi by the end of the year.
Chief executive Tom Enders told the DLD tech conference on Monday:
"One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground. We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously."
Airbus established its Urban Air Mobility division last year, for the express purpose of getting the single-person 'Vahana' vehicle off the ground. It would run on clean energy to avoid further pollution of cities.
"With flying, you don't need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads."
Airbus will be hoping to open the service to general consumers by 2020, with people able to summon the 'Uber Airs' on their smartphones.
Artist's impression of the Vahana
Business Insider reports that Airbus will face competition from Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström.
His venture capital firm Atomico is funding a German company, Lilium Aviation, which is building car-sized aircraft.
Zennström said last month:
"The way we deal with transportation today is broken," said Zennström at the time. "There are congestions and to get from East London to West London takes forever. There is pollution in our cities with carbon dioxide so we get climate change.
"Of course you have electrical vehicles and autonomous vehicles to deal with some of those things but really to solve it in a big way we think you need to take to the skies."
Artist's impressions of Lilium's self-driving jet