All throughout the 20th century, one of the signature features of the future that Americans looked forward to was the possibility of flying cars. Getting in your car and, just like George Jetson, blasting off to work and then home again. Well, it looks like the future is not that far off.
The world may be on the cusp of the skies being filled with flying taxis.
The European company, Airbus, who produces civilian and military aircraft, has released video of tests of its ‘Vahana’ vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone taxi. While there is much progress to be made, the initial results are encouraging, reports Discover Magazine.
For just under a minute, the Vahana craft hovered at sixteen feet at testing grounds in Pendleton, Oregon while officials from Airbus and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) looked on.
At twenty feet wide, nineteen feet long and nine feet high, The Verge describes the drone as “an egg-shaped cabin perched on landing skids with eight rotors and wings that tilt up or forward for vertical or horizontal flight. It’s the kind of thing many people would dismiss as an up-jumped drone, or a very confused helicopter.”
Two years ago, Vahana was just a lofty idea. Yesterday it flew for the first time. Thank you, @VahanaAero team, for the proudest moment of my career. Good luck, Alpha One, in your future flights. https://t.co/QwJnwNq6QI #AvGeek pic.twitter.com/jrXNENtNHd
— Rodin Lyasoff (@RodinLyasoff) February 1, 2018
In 2016, Airbus announced that it was looking to create a fleet of drone taxis that would operate in densely packed cities and would fly from the rooftops of buildings, ferrying customers.
“Our goal is to democratize personal flight by leveraging the latest technologies such as electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision,” Zach Lovering, Vahana project executive, wrote in a Medium post.
Electric propulsion is the major barrier to the launching of a drone taxi service. The Verge writes that present electric battery technology is not sufficient to overcome the power-to-weight ratio required to make a drone taxi service viable.
Other countries are in the race to create a drone taxi. Dubai has the Volocopter undergoing tests, the Chinese are prepping their Ehang and two American aeronautic companies are working on their Zunum Aero project.
Surprisingly, Vahana is not the only airborne autonomous project being conducted by Airbus.
The Verge reports that the “European aerospace giant announced last year that it was partnering with Rolls-Royce and Siemens on a hybrid electric aircraft prototype, the E-Fan X, that will prove the mixture of conventional and electric engines will work. Airbus flew a demonstrator version of the E-Fan across the English Channel in 2015, but then later scrapped the project. The new version is currently slated to fly sometime in 2020.”
As an aside, the name ‘Vahana’ is Hindu for a vehicle that carried a god and came to symbolize particular god. European scientists, and Western scientists for that matter, have become enraptured of the Indian pantheon of gods.
When CERN started completed the construction of its enormous subterranean Hadron Collider in 2004, it held a ceremony marked by the unveiling of a statue of the demi-dog Nataraja depicting the Hindu god Shiva.
According to one website, Shiva’s purpose is to destroy the world in order to recreate it. A Bengali chant says:
“Because You love the Burning-ground, I have made a Burning-ground of my heart – That You, Dark One, hunter of the Burning-ground, May dance Your eternal dance.”
In 2008, when the Collider was set to start operations, CERN released a publicity video in which employees of the scientific venture perform a bizarre ritualistic dance that later turned out to be Shiva’s ‘Dance Of Destruction‘.
A PR campaign by radical environmentalist ‘Android Jones’ in 2015 projected the image of Kali, the Indian goddess of death and destruction, onto the Empire State Building. Jones stated that the image was put up, along with those of animals, to highlight the plague humanity is in regards to the survival of the animal kingdom. Yet Kali is often pictured wearing a necklace of human skulls and often holding a bloody sword/knife and a severed human head.
Perhaps most famous is theoretical physicist Robert J. Oppenheimer’s quip in reference to his participation in developing the nuclear bomb, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” The quotes derives from the Hindu holy book Bhagavad Gita and was uttered by Shiva.
Let’s just hope the flying cars work like they’re supposed to and get us safely to our destinations and home again — without destroying the world in the process.
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