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Decades ago, the only way to get around town by automobile was to own a car, call a taxi, or catch one of the many public transportation options in the city, be it the bus, subway station, or train. Today, the world is very different. We still have all of these options, but Uber and Lyft have made ride hailing into a huge practice by nearly anyone – even if you own a car, it’s smarter and safer to hail a ride to and from the bar. However, traffic is still a pain, especially around the holidays. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had your own personal aircraft to get where you need to go? The Hyundai Motor Group and Uber are working on it.
News about personal aircrafts isn’t anything new. The Moller SkyCar was supposed to be a retail item by 2011, but aside from a short test flight of getting off the ground, the project was deemed unfit and discontinued. This failure didn’t stop other inventors from perfecting flight for the average joe. In 2018, we learned about the Blackfly, originally set out to be the first flying car available for purchase by consumers. Able to fly a single passenger 25 miles and completely electric, the Blackfly had over 1000 tests operated remotely and autonomously. After passing laws and getting certified, this aircraft was supposed to be available for the price of a luxury SUV by last year. Even with all the calamity of 2021, Blackfly managed to produce 25 BlackFly units for sale by the Fall of 2021.
Project Skai was another flying car prototype, made to look like a large taxi fused with a helicopter, the cab was large enough for several people and had four rotors. A hydrogen-powered personal aircraft, this was another imaginative take on personal travel by air. A full-scale model of Skai was put on exhibit for investors in 2019. Developed by Alaka’i Technologies, a privately held company based in Massachusetts, this company was already miles ahead of Blackfly – literally, with an estimated flying range of 300 miles for the five-seater.
The real possibilities started with the Airbus, the same project between Hyundai and Uber. Originally tested in 2018, the Airbus made a large comeback in early 2020 during the Consumer Electronics Show. With the halt of many auto shows during 2020, Kia and Hyundai were lucky to get into 2020 CES to show what the companies are working on. One of the highlights was the ecosystem of mobility that included electric vehicles, purpose-built vehicles (PBVs), and personal aircrafts people could hail for a quick flight to their destination, able to fly up to 60 miles at 180 mph.
Little has been shared about either of these aircraft projects since their initial debut, but the Airbus has hit another large advancement in flying on the airwaves. Thanks to a new partnership between the Hyundai Motor Group, Uber, and ANRA Technologies, the Airbus project is getting a head start on navigating the available airspace for smaller aircrafts. ANRA Technologies provides an array of services, such as mission planning, strategic deconfliction, tracking and monitoring, constraints management, authorization, and registration of aircrafts.
Like the Google Waymo self-driving car, the Airbus seems to be the closest project to break into the personal aircraft industry. Both companies have a lot of hoops to jump through before their vehicles are released to the public. Can we really trust a computer to fly us through the air? It hasn’t been done before, and it will surely be a historical event whenever someone takes the first ride in an Airbus. Find out more about this exciting technology when you follow us on NowCar social media.