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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Traffic jams are synonymous with cars, and both are global issues, so companies are looking to the future and trying to reinvent travel and mobility.

 

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Flying cars, flying taxis, flying drones and autonomous aircraft that shuttle people and goods backwards and forwards, call them what you will but they’re literally starting to take off. Over the past couple of years, as interest in the space has gathered speed, there have been a number of first flights, for example, in Dubai and Germany, and companies like Aston Martin, Porsche, and Rolls Royce have even joined the party, showing off their own fantastic concepts. And then of course there’s the Audi-Airbus alliance, and now, about a year after first showing off their PopUp concept the first Airbus all-electric, four-seat multicopter demonstrator, CityAirbus, has made its first untethered flight in Donauwörth, Germany, at the company’s competence center for military air systems, according to Airbus.

 

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Housed under Airbus Helicopters, the CityAirbus project – as well as the Vahana unmanned demonstrator, which completed flight testing last year – is part of Airbus’ efforts to explore and understand the fundamental technologies behind electric aircraft and the urban air mobility market, including distributed electric propulsion and autonomous flight.

 

From drawing board to flying prototype …
 

Driven by eight propellers contained in four ducted propulsion units, CityAirbus is targeting a cruise speed of approximately 75 mph with capacity for four passengers, which Airbus calls “ideal for urban ridesharing.”

The CityAirbus demonstrator is intended to be remotely piloted, according to Airbus’ website, or flown autonomously for up to 15 minutes, though that capability hasn’t been added to the aircraft yet, according to the company.

 

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As a multicopter concept somewhat similar to Volocopter’s VoloCity, CityAirbus likely will not be as efficient in forward flight as many other electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) concepts, such as two unveiled at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show: Bell’s Nexus 4EX and Hyundai’s S-A1, both of which are part of Uber’s Elevate ecosystem, and unfortunately as a demonstrator program the CityAirbus project isn’t likely to enter production, but it’s a start and a sign of things to come and that’s what makes the project, and the demonstration so exciting.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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