Flying cars are nothing new. But normally they鈥檙e the (life鈥檚) work of a wild-eyed, sleeve-clutching inventor bent on achieving world domination from his shed, or of Ian Fleming when he wasn鈥檛 engaged in plotting the struggle against Scaramanga and his chums.
Now you鈥檝e Googled that and learned a new tidbit of pub ammo, let鈥檚 turn our attention to Airbus. Yes, that Airbus.
For the last year, Airbus has been working on a thing called Project Vahana. This is a 鈥榩iloted flying vehicle platform,?and the company sees it being operated on the same sort of car-sharing basis as other new-tech mobility concepts.
Crazy as that sounds, Airbus isn鈥檛 alone in this. Uber is also working on an electric flying taxi, which it intends to bring to market by 2020.
While Project Vahana may indeed be an anagram of Havana Jet Corp, it too is battery powered. It鈥檚 also based not in Cuba but in Silicon Valley (100 bonus points if you can actually point to that on a map), home of Airbus鈥?A^3 operation.
The company says it鈥檚 on track to get a car airborne by the end of this year. 鈥楳any of the technologies needed, such as batteries, motors and avionics are most of the way there,?says Rodin Lyasoff, and he should know because he鈥檚 A^3鈥檚 boss.
One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of this technology, according to Airbus, is a surprising one. Vehicles like these will need to be able to avoid each other in flight ?this can鈥檛 be left to the 鈥榩ilot鈥??and while city braking is now commonplace on the ground, it鈥檚 proving harder to resolve in three dimensions.
Undeterred, a company from the Netherlands by the name of PAL-V intends to have a car on sale within two years which will be legal both on the road and in the air. This would be a world first ?though at an expected 鈧?00,000 a pop, it might cost a quid or two to insure.