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Airbus Tests Self-Flying Taxi

Airbus said Friday that it had successfully held the first test flights of the Vahana, an electric, pilotless flying vehicle that it hopes will be able to ferry people around cities.

The Wednesday flight at a test range in the US state of Oregon lasted just under one minute, with the aircraft lifting up five metres (16 feet) from the ground and landing without control from a pilot, the European aerospace firm said in statement.

Propelled by eight rotors that allow it to take off and land vertically, Vahana completed a second test flight on Thursday, and additional testing is slated including forward flight.

The aircraft, which Airbus has been developing for less than two years, is designed to carry one passenger and fly autonomously, according to its website.

“Vahana aims to democratise personal flight and answer the growing need for urban mobility by leveraging the latest technologies in electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision,” Airbus said in its statement.

Autonomous driving technology has made considerable progress in recent years with high-tech firms and established automakers putting test vehicles on the roads, while a handful of inventors and start-ups have developed flying cars.

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