Airbus’ self-piloted ‘flying car’ just passed its first flight test

Key Points
  • Airbus' Vahana craft has flown at a test site in Oregon.
  • The Silicon Valley project aims to slash commuter journey times.
  • The drone-like craft has been in development for two years.
Vahana, the all-electric, self-piloted aircraft from A³ by Airbus, has completed its first full-scale flight test.
Source: Airbus

Aerospace giant Airbus has announced the first successful flight of its self-piloted "flying car."

Two years on from the launch of the "Vahana" project, a full-scale electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) craft reportedly reached a height of 16 feet before landing safely at a site in Pendleton, Oregon.

Airbus said the flight took place Wednesday and lasted 53 seconds. A second flight took place Thursday.

"In just under two years, Vahana took a concept sketch on a napkin and built a full-scale, self-piloted aircraft that has successfully completed its first flight," said Zach Lovering, Vahana's project executive, in a press release Friday.

The VTOL is being developed at "A³," the Silicon Valley outpost of Airbus. The explicit aim is to provide commuters with a self-piloted craft that is cost-comparable to using a car or a train.

The Vahana team had previously said it was aiming for speeds as much as four-times faster than road traffic, with a flight range of about 50 miles.

Airbus said the VTOL could in future also perform as a cargo delivery platform, ambulance, search and rescue device or taxi.

The Vahana team developing the drone-like craft said development of "sense and avoid" technology would be key to achieving desired safety levels.

Airbus said testing of the VTOL would now move on from hovering to being able to change direction in flight.