Airbus is looking to develop an Uber-like service in the sky.
Airbus Group has announced plans to test a prototype for a self-piloted flying car by the end of 2017.
Last year, the company created a division named as Urban Air Mobility to develop autonomous flying cars. The vehicles would be used to transport individuals in a model similar to that followed in the ride-sharing space.
Airbus CEO Tom Enders was quoted by Reuters as saying at the DLD digital tech conference in Munich: “One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground.
“We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously.”
Enders added that the company “has recognized such technologies would have to be clean to avoid further polluting congested cities.”
Flying such vehicles in the sky could also result in reduction of costs for city infrastructure planners, he said.
Enders said: “With flying, you don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads.”
According to Airbus, 60% of the world population could live in cities by 2030, which is 10% more than today. Increased urbanisation, it believes, will continue far into the future and commuting will be a major challenge.
At present, big cities like San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Mumbai, Manila, Tokyo and others are experiencing heavy traffic jams, which waste several days every year.
The firm is planning to develop autonomous flying vehicles under the A3 project called Vahana.
According to Airbus, one possible sector to deploy this technology could be ride-hailing and transport service companies. The system could easily work on the ride-sharing platform, where smartphones can be used for booking a vehicle.
Airbus intends to invest in new technologies such as autonomous driving and artificial intelligence, he said.
Enders said: “If we ignore these developments, we will be pushed out of important segments of the business.”
However, a spokesman for Airbus declined to disclose to the publication about the amount the company was investing in urban mobility.