The manufacturer of the world’s largest passenger airplane is setting its sights on a much smaller form of air travel. As Reuters reports, Airbus aims to have a single-person flying car prototype ready for demonstration by the end of 2017.
Since last year, Airbus has been looking into building autonomous aircraft that can be summoned through an app, just like ground-based ride-hailing services. At this year’s DLD digital tech conference in Munich, Airbus CEO Tom Enders revealed just how close they are to reaching that goal. According to Enders, the project is "in an experimentation phase" and a demo vehicle could be ready for takeoff within the year. In addition to personal flying cars, Airbus is also exploring self-piloted helicopter-style aircraft for transporting multiple passengers at once.
Airbus hardly has a monopoly on the future of autonomous air travel. The European flying car company Lilium Aviation recently received a $10 million investment and has plans to launch full-scale test flights within the year. Uber is also looking to take short-distance travel to the skies in the near future. Building flying cars sounds like a costly endeavor, but Enders says it could end up saving cities money in the long run. "With flying, you don't need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads," he said at the conference.