Airbus Autonomous Air-Taxi Prototype Scheduled to Fly Next Year

Airbus Group is testing and developing CityAirbus air-taxi concept.

Airbus Group Air-Taxi Concept
Airbus Group's CityAirbus air-taxi concept.Airbus Group

Airbus Group says it is developing the CityAirbus, an autonomous air taxi for individual passenger and cargo transport, scheduled to fly late next year.

Launched in February, the vehicle is being developed by Airbus Helicopters. Studies of multi-passenger transport are also in the works. The vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) air taxi would use electric propulsion and multiple-ducted propellers, and would be piloted initially, before transitioning to fully autonomous operations.

If all goes as planned, the CityAirbus would integrate with services such as Uber, allowing passengers to use their smartphones to book vehicles.

“The market will develop quickly once we are able to deploy the first vehicles in megacities and demonstrate the benefits of quiet, emission-free air transport as competitive prices,” said Jorg Muller, from Airbus Group’s corporate development department. “When looking at the transport needs of business travelers to and from airports or between business districts, you quickly realize that the potential demand corresponds to about 100 times the yearly production of Airbus Helicopters. And that this would only require replacing one out of a hundred ground taxis.”