Are we one step closer to pilotless commercial jets?

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(CNN) — The concept of pilotless commercial jet flight has been bandied about for years.

But while the technology has been there, there’s been little concrete evidence to suggest autonomous flying could ever really get off the ground — until now.

Airbus has confirmed one of its test aircraft took off automatically at Toulouse-Blagnac airport in France last December.

The European aerospace company conducted a series of successful tests on autopilot last month, with two pilots on standby.

According to Airbus, the A350-1000 achieved eight automatic takeoffs over a period of four and a half hours.

“While completing alignment on the runway, waiting for clearance from air traffic control, we engaged the autopilot,” Airbus test pilot Captain Yann Beaufils explained in a statement.

“We moved the throttle levers to the takeoff setting and we monitored the aircraft. It started to move and accelerate automatically maintaining the runway center line, at the exact rotation speed as entered in the system.”

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After drones & self-driving vehicles, Japan shows flying cars are no longer a distant dream

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While drones and self-driving cars have been making the headlines, Japan has reportedly have cracked the code of making flying cars. Though the car was caged and only hovered for about a minute in the air, it was a successful attempt to make the vehicle fly. In an experiment right out of the sci-fi movies, this has been accomplished by Japan’s NEC Corp. While it is a small development directing towards bigger accomplishments, there is also a debate on whether it really is a flying “car” or just a bigger version of a drone.

What Can The Flying Car Accomplish?

The prototype which was unveiled by Japan’s NEC Corp had four propellers that could smoothly hover for about a minute. It was powered by a battery and could rise to about the height of 3 meters or 10 feet above the ground before setting down again. While the prototype that Japanese electronics maker demonstrated was flown without passengers in it, the company claims that it is capable of doing so in the future.

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This futuristic Airbus smart seat prototype may make the future of economy flying a bit less miserable

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Move Airbus seat concept

  • The Move seat concept was created by London-based design firm Layer for Airbus.
  • The seats are made from lightweight polyester wood smart textile wrapped around an aluminum frame.
  • Electrical currents running through the smart textile allow passengers to control the firmness and the temperature of the seat.
  • Move seats can be adjusted using an app.
  • According to Layer, the seats are meant to help create an innovative passenger experience for economy class travelers.

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Airbus mulls single-pilot flights as Artificial Intelligence could enable autonomous planes

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Skift Take Airbus acknowledges that the “explainability” of artificial intelligence is an impediment to getting regulators to sign off on certain products. Passengers will definitely need some very good explainers, too.

Though autopilot is not a new technology, Airbus’s Chief Technology Office Grazia Vittadini said the company is hoping current advances in artificial intelligence will help complete the step to completely autonomous planes.

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12 awesome flying cars and taxis currently in development

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These flying cars want to take your commute to new heights

We were promised that the future would bring flying cars, right? We were. And the good news is that tech entrepreneurs around the world are finally getting started on creating what are commonly known as VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing, pronounced vee-toll) vehicles designed at car size.

Of course, no one is ready for flying cars quite yet. There’s no infrastructure to support them, and a whole new set of auto laws would have to be drawn up to regulate them (like personal drones, but a thousand times worse). The first commercial VTOLs we will see won’t be hanging out at the local auto dealer—they’ll be taxi services built to shuttle people from part of a city to another.

Here’s all the current projects that want to put you in the seat of a flying car.

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Airbus’ electric flying taxis are set to take to the skies next year

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Airbus has successfully completed testing on its CityAirbus’ propulsion system, putting the VTOL on track for a 2018 test flight. When its fully operational, it will be able to carry up to four people and maneuver around the city at 120km/h.

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Airbus’ Pop.Up concept may be the best “flying car” proposal to date

One of the biggest obstacles keeping flying cars grounded isn’t necessarily figuring out how to make a vehicle capable of flight (hello, helicopters) but rather, designing something that can both fly and drive on the streets.

The flexibility of being able to do both is incredibly appealing but physical limitations on both sides of the spectrum impact the ability to efficiently accomplish the other task.

That’s where Airbus’ latest concept changes things up.

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Airbus Hopes to Build Transparent Passenger Plane

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This is your captain speaking, your plane is about to become invisible!

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has revealed it hopes to build a passenger plane with a completely transparent fuselage. At the push of a button the captain would send an electrical pulse through a hi-tech ceramic skin making the main body of the plane see-through, Der Spiegel reports.

 

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Airbus Fantasy Jet of the Future is Leaner, Cleaner and Quieter

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Airbus “fantasy plane”

As soon as 2030, we might be flying in a new, more efficient aircraft with long, curled wings, a U-shaped tail, and a lightweight body — if manufacturer Airbus develops the “fantasy plane” it unveiled today at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK. The concept aircraft is more fuel efficient, boasts advanced interior systems, and, best of all, it’s quieter.

 

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