Airbus, Aeroports de Paris and the Paris Transport Authority are exploring the feasibility of using autonomous flying taxis to carry visitors from Charles de Gaulle Airport into the city during the 2024 Olympics.
While the press release speaks of a study, there is more real-life testing to it. Aeroports de Paris (ADP), for example, has to select a site for a flying taxi hub in the French capital by the end of 2019, and it should be ready within 18 months. They will test the link through an “existing helicopter corridor,” according to ADP’s Edward Arkwright quoted by Engadget.
More so, Airbus is already present in the on-demand mobility sector, with its Voom service offering, based on the use of helicopters in urban areas, and it is developing the Vahana and CityAirbus VTOL vehicle demonstrators, which are 100% electric. The CityAirbus is the company’s project with Audi and Airbus says a maiden flight is near. The development of the CityAirbus is embedded in the EU initiative Urban Air Mobility, which is to conduct practical studies on the use of aircraft for city transport.
Also in Paris, the feasibility study includes a look at how the new flying cabs would integrate into existing options and find user acceptance, both sectors the RATP Group, Paris’ transit operator, will focus on in the project.
Lastly, ADP is prepared to act as a catalyser in the development of this service in the Paris Ile-de-France region, based on its infrastructure engineering expertise, which today includes “vertiport” platforms plus the above mentioned existing helicopter corridor.
Overall, Airbus states that this project “marks the creation of a team of recognised experts to develop not only French technology but also a model for urban mobility, associated services and export potential”.
Indeed air taxis are beginning to take off. Airbus rival Boeing, for example, presented their take on a passenger VTOL through Aurora Flight Sciences. The aviation taxi developer acquired by Boeing in 2017 is one of a number of firms that have partnered with Uber in an effort to develop a network of “flying taxis”. These are supposed to operate on the ride-hailing company’s forthcoming Uber Elevate product, planned for launch in 2023. Also Lilium has been making advances, and we are starting to expect to see electric flying cabs to become a reality – perhaps not only for the few.