First Test Flight of Airbus Vahana Passenger Drone a Success

Airbus announced its intentions on developing a passenger drone in 2016. Last week, the Vahana team finally successfully tested the drone in Oregon.

Airbus / Vahana

It seems that only a few months ago, drone delivery was the biggest topic of discussion in the world of unmanned aerial vehicles. These days, it seems the focus is pivoting to passenger drones, and the innovative environment amongst competing companies duking it out in this nascent new field. From the Volocopter to the Y6S and the Ehang 184, drone companies seem to be using the motivation of competition to breed innovation and creativity in regards to the continuously impressive passenger drones being brought into the world these days. Two years ago, Airbus announced its intentions to join the passenger drone arena. Last week, the company successfully completed the first test flight of its Vahana passenger drone. 

According to Discover, the vehicle autonomously navigated the skies above the Pendleton, Oregon test site for 53 seconds at a height of 16 feet. While these figures aren’t exactly groundbreaking, it’s definitely reassuring to see so many companies research, develop, and produce passenger drones of their own, regardless of which manufacturer’s model is more impressive or disappointing. This new industry has already benefitted from the recent growth and the inherent competition therein, and fostering this type of creativity can only lead to more data, products, and services for the public. 

Project executive of the Vahana drone, Zach Lovering, wrote in a Medium post, “Our goal is to democratize personal flight by leveraging the latest technologies such as electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision.” According to that same post, Federal Aviation Administration representatives were in attendance for this inaugural test flight. The Vahana drone used last week weighed 1,642 pounds and measured 20.3 feet wide by 18.7 feet long by 9.2 feet high. 

Here's CEO of Airbus SV and creator of Vahana Aero, Rodin Lyasoff, celebrating his team's hard-earned accomplishments on Twitter.

How the Vahana drone will ultimately be used in this increasingly complex world of ours is yet unclear. There seems to be a trajectory toward taxi drones and aerial delivery. We have yet to see which company and what sort of passenger drone model will come out on top, and which will be left in the dust. 

Currently, the Ehang 184 seems like a definite contender for functional, user-friendly passenger drone standards. With Airbus' backing, however, the Vahana drone is most definitely one not to be underestimated. Stay tuned, as the Vahana team continues to test its passenger drone. Hopefully, we'll soon get to see some actual footage of the vehicle in flight. 

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