What a time to be alive! In science fiction and real life predictions, flying cars have been the quintessential technology of the future that everyone expected to be here by now but haven’t arrived yet. That could change before the year is over, according to the Airbus CEO Tom Enders. Airbus, the company that builds the super-jumbo A380 airliner, has partnered with the automotive-design studio Italdesign to create a new autonomous aircraft concept vehicle that it hopes to have a prototype for by the end of 2017. “One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders told the DLD digital tech conference in Munich.
Last year Airbus formed a division called Urban Air Mobility that is exploring concepts such as a vehicle to transport individuals, or a helicopter-style vehicle that can carry multiple riders. The aim would be for people to book the vehicle using an app, similar to car-sharing services.
Enders said in an interview with Reuters that Airbus, as the world’s largest maker of commercial helicopters, wanted to invest to make the most of new technologies such as autonomous driving and artificial intelligence to usher in what amounts to an era of flying cars.”If we ignore these developments, we will be pushed out of important segments of the business,” he said. While Airbus is planning on having a prototype this year, it forecasts that it won’t have a model ready for public demonstration until 2020.
Airbus isn’t the only company venturing into the flying car game. Uber dropped a white paper in October 2016 giving details. AeroMobil as well as Zee.Aero, a startup funded by Google co-founder Larry Page are also working on flying car concepts. Are you excited to finally see flying cars come to fruition? Let us know what you think in the comments.