Flying cars have long been one of the most iconic sci-fi tropes when it comes to long-foretold future tech. But at this point, no one’s really holding their breath for a flying car.
Airbus Helicopters hasn’t given up on the dream. Earlier this week, the London-based company revealed concept art for a self-piloted “airbus” that looks like something straight out of The Fifth Element. It’s meant to be self-piloted and electric, with vertical take-off and landing capabilities.
The concept is basically a flying taxi, with seats for four passengers. Its creators envision it will be used to get city dwellers to airports and train stations via fixed routes at about 74 miles per hour.
Airbus has not yet powered on the CityAirbus for a test flight, but the company says it has conducted successful testing of the propulsion system. Its propellers, propulsion unit, and 100 kilo-watt motors passed muster. Chief designer Bebesel said that its four-ducted propeller configuration is what makes it work well.
“We now have a better understanding of the performance of CityAirbus’ innovative electric propulsion system, which we will continue to mature through rigorous testing while beginning the assembly of the full-scale CityAirbus flight demonstrator,” he said in a press statement.
The Airbus is on track to be tested at full-scale the end of 2018. For the initial testing, the aircraft will be piloted remotely. A test pilot will be on board later.
Should the testing prove successful, it’s hard to say how long it will take for legislation approving this method of travel. Considering these aircrafts are intended to fly over traffic, the rules and regulations going to have to be rigorous. Promotional materials from Airbus indicate their goal is to have it “become part of public, urban transport mix” by 2023.
Logistics aside, there’s no question how useful this would be. Getting to the airport in a lot of major cities can be, famously, a nightmare. Taking a flying car would be roughly one billion times more chill than squeezing into a shuttle that inevitably gets stuck in miles of traffic or dragging your suitcase all through the city on public transportation.
If you liked this article, check out this video of an Airbus concept vehicle that is half-drone, half-car.