New Competitor Developing Self-Flying Air Taxis Emerges

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Yet another animated video of a flying car set to be produced in Silicon Valley has surfaced, and rather than keep it under wraps, the company is laying it all out in plain sight.

Vahana is an all-electric, eight-motor, single seat vertical takeoff aircraft set to be made by Airbus. With its pivoting rotors, the vehicle is designed to be used as an automated flying taxi.

Users would be able summon the Vahana to a predetermined landing spot.

Designers envision sensors all around the plane to help avoid in-air obstacles.

It also has a parachute.

Vahana was dreamed up here at Airbus’ Bay Area think tank dubbed A-Cubed, which has embraced Silicon Valley’s put-it-all-out there mentality.

Online, you can find everything from design sketches to study notes.

Vahana project executive Zach Lovering says a ride would likely cost passengers about the same as a taxi, approximately $1.50 to $2.50 per mile.

Tech analyst Tim Bajarin has been keeping an eye on personal flying vehicles for years. But he says a self-flying passenger plane would be a tough sell to the FAA.

“You just can’t get a brand new car, give it wings, and then give a car the keys and say go fly off! Just not gonna happen,” said Bajarin.

But that has not deterred the valley.

Earlier this year, Uber announced plans to begin testing of its autonomous flying taxi as early as the end of the year.

And last fall Zee Aero, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, went public plans for a large R&D facility in Holliatet.

Neighbors snapped photos of an experimental plane they said was hovering several feet off the ground.

There is also Kitty Hawk, a startup funded with $100 million from google co-founder Larry Page, which is actually taking deposits on its personal flying vehicle.

However, getting these vehicles past all the bureaucratic FAA red tape would be tough.

When asked if he thought pressure from Silicon Valley could force the change quickly, Bajarin was skeptical

Not really, said Bajarin.

While he admitted a fleet of personal flying taxis with a human pilot is possible within five to seven years, self-flying taxis are a long way off.

“I am a party pooper in the sense I’d like to have it,” said Bajarin. “It’d be great to have one of these vehicles to get me out of traffic. But I’m also a realist.”

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