Aviation company Airbus presented a pre-prototype version of its CityAirbus passenger drone on Monday in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt. The CityAirbus is a battery-electric four-seater with eight rotors. The vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft won’t require a pilot, and targets a range of around 50 km.
Ingolstadt, which is one of the test areas for the EU’s Urban Air Mobility program, expects to see test flights of the Airbus flying taxi by summer this year. However, flying taxis are years away from taking to urban skies, not least because rules and regulations to govern their movement currently don’t exist, and flights over built-up areas are forbidden.
At the Airbus presentation in Ingolstadt yesterday, Germany’s transport minister Andreas Scheuer said that a legal framework for flying taxis needs to be created swiftly, and “not when the engineers have finished developing the aircraft.” Airbus is reckoning with EU regulations being in place somewhere in the middle of the next decade.
Airbus is building the flying taxi at its factory in Swabia, Germany. The European aviation giant is in a race against competitors like Uber, Boeing, and, at home in Germany, against startup Volocopter. Volocopter announced in February that it was teaming up with Frankfurt airport operator Fraport to develop a plan on integrating air taxis into the existing airport infrastructure.