Vahana, The Airbus Flying Taxi
Europe's Airbus is working on Uber-like taxis - that fly.
(Vahana, Airbus flying taxi)
The drawings depict a craft that can take off and land vertically. It has helicopter-like struts, and two sets of tilting wings each with four electric motors. There's room for a passenger under a canopy that retracts like a motorcycle helmet visor...
It is developing Vahana through its A3 unit, which formally opened this year in San Jose, the heart of California's tech community. Airbus made an initial $150 million funding commitment for its new venture capital unit, which is seeking out investments in disruptive technologies to speed up innovations in aerospace.
"The aircraft we're building doesn't need a runway, is self-piloted, and can automatically detect and avoid obstacles and other aircraft," A3 chief executive Rodin Lyasoff wrote in September. "Designed to carry a single passenger or cargo, we're aiming to make it the first certified passenger aircraft without a pilot."
The device as predicted by James Blish's 1957 novel Cities in Flight probably didn't have wings but was functionally equivalent:
The cab came floating down out of the sky at the intersection and maneuvered itself to rest at the curb next to them with a finicky precision. There was, of course, nobody in it; like everything else in the world requiring an IQ of less than 150, it was computer-controlled...
The cab was an egg-shaped bubble of light metals and plastics, painted with large red-and-white checkers, with a row of windows running all around it. Inside, there were two seats for four people, a speaker grille, and that was all: no controls and no instruments...
(Read more about the tin cabbie)
By the way, the use of the word "vahana" may tell you something about the team working on the flying taxi. It's a sanskrit word: वाहन, Vāhana, literally "that which carries, that which pulls". All of the Hindu deities have a special mount, or vahana, to carry them around.
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