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Airbus self-flying taxi featuring Pittsburgh tech ready for test flights

Aaron Aupperlee
| Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, 4:15 p.m.
The Vahana aircraft designed by Airbus inside the Pendleton Hanger at the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport. (Photo from Vahana)
The Vahana aircraft designed by Airbus inside the Pendleton Hanger at the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport. (Photo from Vahana)
A drawing of Vahana, the self-flying car under development by Airbus.
A drawing of Vahana, the self-flying car under development by Airbus.
A drawing of the sensor package known as Peregrine that Near Earth Autonomy will supply to Airbus for Vahana, its self-flying car project.
A drawing of the sensor package known as Peregrine that Near Earth Autonomy will supply to Airbus for Vahana, its self-flying car project.

The self-flying taxi under development by Airbus and featuring technology from Pittsburgh-based Near Earth Autonomy is ready for flight tests at an airport in Oregon.

Airbus moved its Vahana aircraft from its facility in Santa Clara, Calif., to a hangar at the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport known as the Pendleton Hanger, according to a post on Medium by Zach Lovering, the project executive.

“Completing the move to Pendleton was an extensive process, but was yet another monumental step in our journey toward first flight,” Lovering wrote . “Vahana is happily settled in its new home and receives careful attention from the Vahana team as we set our eyes on the Oregon skies for our first flight.”

The team has said it hopes to fly its first full-scale prototype by the end of the year.

Vahana is a rotor-driven aircraft that can take off and land vertically like a helicopter. Its eight rotors are strung across wing-like booms in the front and back of the aircraft. Vahana would operate like an Uber or Lyft for the sky, with riders requesting the aircraft to pick them up in one location and fly them to another location.

To land, Vahana will make use of laser and sensor systems developed by Near Earth Autonomy. Airbus and Near Earth Autonomy announced their partnership in August .

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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