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Paris Air Show: Airbus and Boeing present their autonomous air taxis

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By Olivier Peguy  & Alice Tidey
Paris Air Show: Airbus and Boeing present their autonomous air taxis

Autonomous air taxis are still years away, but prototypes are creating a buzz at this year's Paris Air Show.

Bill Reed, deputy editor of Aerospace Magazine, said there are around 150 companies currently developing their own models.

"I think the technology is there but there are some things they still have to deal with," he said. "They've got to deal with the problem of operating these vehicles in urban environments, they've got to make sure that they're safe, that they're not going to cause any problems if they have to come down unexpectedly."

Aviation arch rivals, Airbus and Boeing, are among those working on the technology.

'The future of how you'll travel'

The American company presented the prototype for its Autonomous Passenger Air Vehicle, which successfully completed its first test flight in January.

"This is a very early stage prototype where we've gone from design to development in flight testing in about 12 months, but this is the future of how you'll travel around cities," Steve Norland, General Manager of Boeing Next, said.

"A challenge of moving out in this new space of future mobility is you really need to develop an entire ecosystem, it's not just about the airplane — although that is a key component. It's really about the infrastructure that's going to be needed," he added.

The European company also brought its model to Le Bourget.

Dubbed the Vahana, it was first etched on a napkin in 2016 with the Alpha One prototype having already flown more than 50 hours.

It aims to become the world's first certified electric, self-piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) passenger aircraft and the group used the Paris Air show — the world's largest aviation event — to announce it would be used during the 2024 Olympics in the French capital.

The 2019 International Paris Air Show runs until Sunday, June 23.

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