Airbus, the European aeronautical product manufacturer has released the video of its autonomous air vehicle named Alpha One. The video features the self-flying air taxi hovering above the ground for nearly a minute, and finally landing safely. Even though the initial looks of this air car are very similar to that of an upgraded drone, industry experts consider this as a major breakthrough for battery powered flight.
The new prototype of this flying taxi is a part of Project Vahana, Airbus' advanced project division. According to reports, the flight took place at the end of January 2018 in Pendleton, Oregon.
The next step in its development will be to guide the air taxi through the air from point A to point B. Airbus has previously said that their aim is to build a series of air taxis which can be used to fly from rooftops to rooftops in dense cities where traffic jams are a serious concern.
"This full-scale aircraft, dubbed AlphaOne, is all electric and self-piloted. During our minute-long flight, the primary battery system used about 8% of its total energy, demonstrating that the vehicle is capable of much more," said Zach Lovering, a project executive at Vahana in the description of the video.
In a recent blog post, Zach Lovering said that the aim of Vahana is to reshape the global pursuit of urban air mobility. "Our aim has long been to design and build a single passenger electric VTOL self-piloted aircraft that will answer the growing need for urban mobility. Our goal is to democratize personal flight by leveraging the latest technologies such as electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision," said Zach Lovering.
Vahana is 6.2 meters wide, 5.7 meters long, and 2.8 meters tall. It has the capability to take off weight up to 745 kilograms. The air taxi has eight propellers, and the six rotor design allows it to take off vertically. Later, it can adjust its wings to move directionally.
Airbus aims to launch the commercial version of Alpha One by 2020.