Vahana is a project worked on by the A^3 technological development arm of Airbus, and is located in Santa Clara, CA. Vahana uses variable-angle rotors that provide thrust vertically for takeoff and landing and swivel forward to facilitate accelerated conventional flight.
Stage of Development
From the Vahana Website:
The next technological breakthrough in urban air mobility.
Project Vahana intends to open up urban airways by developing the first certified electric, self-piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) passenger aircraft. We envision Vahana being as a cost-comparable replacement for short-range urban transportation like cars or trains. A core premise of this project is that full automation and sense-and-avoid technology will allow us to achieve higher safety levels by minimizing human error while allowing more vehicles to share the sky. As a platform, Vahana can be as diverse as its wheeled grounded counterpart when being used for cargo delivery, emergency services, search and rescue, or even as a tool to deploy modular infrastructure in disaster sites. There is no other project that we know of that incorporates this much automation in vertical flight. With Airbus’ long history in aircraft certification and safety, we are uniquely positioned to realize large-scale automated flight within urban environments.
Our Take on Vahana
Vahana's first flight on January 31st, 2018 was a milestone - but we haven't heard much of anything from Airbus since then. They were absent at the Uber Elevate Summit in Los Angeles in May, and it seems that the project has slowed in some respects, for unknown reasons. The first flight was successful, as Vahana's team documented the flight test, which consisted of takeoff, hover, and landing. However, the company claims that 9% of its battery was consumed during this flight, which lasted a little over a minute - effectively giving the Vahana 10 minutes of flight time, which would either mandate a very quick cruising speed or a redesign of the energy storage system.
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