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Urban Mobility

From the streets to the skies

In 2030, 60 percent of the population will be living in cities. Half a dozen new mega-cities will have arisen, and old cities will have grown further still. Urban planners are faced with the task of making sure that mobility in these mega-cities will still be possible in the future. Airbus is working on revolutionary concepts. The goal: to simply fly over the traffic jams.

From Silicon Valley to Donauwörth

At the Airbus innovation centres around the globe, ground-breaking ideas are emerging. Examples:

Vahana: In Silicon Valley, since 2016, the Group’s very own A3 think-tank has been developing an autonomous aircraft designed to transport individual passengers or cargo, inspired by the principle of car sharing. The customer uses an app to order an aircraft, climbs on board at the nearest landing zone, and is flown to their destination. Flight tests with the first prototype are already planned for beginning of 2018.

CityAirbus: Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth has been promoting a similar project for about two years. The CityAirbus is designed to carry up to four passengers, who book their seat in advance via an app. A trip costs little more than a taxi ride. The first prototype is set to fly as early as 2019 – at first with a pilot, then autonomously.

With its innovations, Airbus wants to revolutionise local transport. Millions of people in urban areas could use aircraft in the future, thus significantly reducing traffic on the ground. In order to rapidly advance the matter, Airbus has founded an “Urban Air Mobility” department within the Group’s research division. Among other things, this department will further investigate the technological requirements for unmanned aerial systems.

Constant demands on regulations

Also in the pipeline of the Airbus developers: the concept vehicle Pop.Up, a modular vehicle both for the road and for individual air transport.

This significant development pace implies new challenges for aviation regulations. Politicians are responding. For example, the German Federal Minister of Transport, Alexander Dobrindt, brought in a new drone regulation at the start of the year. The key objective – ensuring safety in air transport while at the same time promoting the commercial use of unmanned air vehicles – was thus fulfilled.

However, there is still pressure on regulatory authorities to allow visionary mobility concepts to become a reality. Industry is an important partner in this respect. For example, in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Airbus Helicopters is testing a drone-based parcel delivery service in the urban area. The service will commence in 2018 on the campus of the National University of Singapore. It is hoped that the results will serve to convince governments around the world to further develop drone regulations.

Status: March 2017

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