In Berlin this week, numerous aviation and aerospace companies were on show at the Berlin Air Show, otherwise known as ILA2018.
The aerospace event, which attracts a global array of exhibitors representing aviation, space, defense and security industries, featured a number of unmanned solutions.
While many of the drones being demonstrated were primarily designed for military use, civilian drones also made an appearance.
In addition to their miltary UAV system MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance; Remotely Piloted Aircraft System), aerospace giant Airbus also presented drones that they intend to target to commercial and civilian markets.
The newcomer Airbus Aerial, which specialises in commercial drones, showed off its Zephyr UAV. This lightweight unmanned aircraft which is touted by Airbus as a ‘High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite’, tackles the problem of long range flight with the power of the sun, being embedded from wing tip to wing tip with photovoltaic cells.
Zephyr uses sensors and transceivers to provide high-resolution images quickly from dizzying heights of 20 km. Saving 2,000 tons of fuel per year, it flies above weather and commercial airspace for more than 30 days at a time. “Zephyr offers new opportunities for long-term monitoring and can act as an over-the-air relay for long-term transmissions,” the company said in a press release.
Airbus’ answer to personal air transport, the City Airbus Helicopter, also made an appearance. The unmanned air taxi is still undergoing final tests and is expected to take its inaugural flight later this year. Airbus say it will be an alternative to terrestrial taxis, and won’t be limited to those with fat wallets.
“It will not be a VIP option because we want to democratise this kind of transportation so it will be comparable to a normal taxi, maybe even a bit cheaper in a certain point in future,” said Marius Bebesel, chief engineer and head of the CityAirbus program to Aljazeera.
With commercial aviation traffic likely to double in the next 15 years and cities continuing to grow, Airbus says that utilising urban airspace is the key to fast, efficient travel.
“By harnessing powerful computer technology and increasing levels of autonomy, we can optimise flight trajectories,” said Pascal Traverse, Head of Autonomy at Airbus. “We expect this to bring multiple social and environmental benefits, such as saving fuel and reducing noise, as well as allowing for easier vehicle sharing and easing the burden on our natural resources.”
The presentation by Airbus follows the unveiling earlier this year at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, of their air taxi design concept Pop.Up Next, created in collaboration with Audi and Italdesign.
With personal transport solutions like this being developed, one day we could all be travelling in style.