November 19, 2018
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Air taxis
Airbus is building a self-flying plane

Airbus has announced that it is building a prototype of an electric self-flying plane for a single passenger, which it is calling the Vahana.

According to the reports, the plane would be electric and capable of flying approximately 50 miles.The design has two sets of wings and eight propellers, partly to allow the plane to manoeuvre through urban landscapes.

Airbus aims to launch its air taxis in a decade, with the long timespan reflecting concerns about infrastructure, accessibility and regulation.

The Vahana (named for the creatures that Hindu gods ride upon) looks far different from other small planes because it has to fly straight up and down to fit tight urban landscapes without runways. It achieves that with two sets of wings-one sprouting from the craft’s nose and one from the tail-which tilt up about 90 degrees to a vertical position. The wings carry eight propellers in total, making the Vahana look like a forest of helicopters on ascent and descent. The wings rotate level for flight, providing the extra lift that lets the plane travel more than twice as far as the competing helicopter design Airbus was considering. The Vahana will also have a parachute to bring the whole plane down gently in case of an emergency.

Distributing a bunch of rotors that blow air across the wing produces more lift, especially at lower speeds (handy for pinpoint landings in cities) and thus allows smaller wings, which are more efficient at high speed.

Test flights of Vahana will begin before the end of 2017.