Flying taxis just took a step closer to becoming a reality, thanks to the first test firing of the CityAirbus’ propulsion system.
French aeronautics firm Airbus is among a number of companies working on bringing vertical take off and landing (VTOL) technology to the masses.
The project was first announced last year, with the first full test flight scheduled for the end of 2018.
If successful, it could see fully automated versions of the aircraft take to the skies in the near future.
Airbus Helicopters conducted its evaluation at the manufacturer’s facility in Donauwörth, Germany.
The firm thoroughly checked the performance of the vehicle’s two propellers, electric 100 KW Siemens motors and electrical systems.
The full-scale demonstrator will be tested on ground initially.
In the first half of the coming year, Airbus’ development team expects to reach the ‘power on’ milestone.
This means that all motors and electric systems will be switched for the first time.
The test aircraft will be remotely piloted to begin with, and a test pilot will be carried aboard at a later date.
This is almost a mirror image to the expected real-world operation of the CityAirbus, which will be piloted initially before going fully automatic.
Once completed, it is expected to be able to reach speeds of up to 75 mph (120 km/h).
In a written statement Marius Bebesel, CityAirbus’ chief engineer, said: ‘We now have a better understanding of the performance of CityAirbus’ innovative electric propulsion system.
‘We will continue to mature [it] through rigorous testing while beginning the assembly of the full-scale CityAirbus flight demonstrator.’
CityAirbus is a battery-powered VTOL craft designed to carry up to four passengers over the world’s congested megacities, to important destinations like airports or train stations.
The flying taxi uses four-ducted propeller configuration, designed to improve safety and stability while reducing noise.
It is one of a number of automated flying designs of various sizes currently under development.
As well as developments in physical hardware, Airbus Helicopters is also developing an experimental on board image processing management system.
This is aimed at performing automatic approaches and landing under challenging conditions.
It hopes to pave the way for future ‘sense and avoid’ technology for its autonomous VTOL systems.
Codenamed Eagle, for Eye for Autonomous Guidance and Landing Extension, the system federates the entire helicopter’s image processing functions and feeds them into the avionics system.
This could help to improve a crew’s situation awareness and reduce the pilot’s workload by automating and securing approaches, take-off and landing in the most demanding environments.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk