Hangar space, testing advances UAV taxi development in Oregon

By Luke Geiver | June 21, 2017

A 9,600 square foot hangar space operated by SOAR Oregon is now open and ready to house a unique unmanned aircraft vehicle. At the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport, the SOAR team held a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this month to mark the opening the hangar. An advanced projects team linked to Airbus will use the hangar space to house its UAV that is designed to taxi people through autonomous flight.

The electric, self-piloted vehicle being developed by the advanced project team for Airbus partnered with Modern Technology Solutions Inc. in 2016. MTSI is helping to run tests on the Vahana with the help of SOAR and the Pendleton UAS test range team.

“From nearly a dozen sites across the western U.S. that we evaluated, the Pendleton UAS Test Range quickly stood out as a premier test location for our unique test program,” said Jeff Mabry, MTSI flight test lead for Vahana. The team will house its test vehicles in the hangar throughout the process.

The SOAR team is providing a mobile command and control set-up. Zach Lovering, project executive for Vahana said the team hopes to test for reliability and safety of its system.

The vertical-take-off-and-landing UAV features a single-person cockpit for taxi flights. The system can receive a message from a passenger, land in a designated pick-up point, and then fly a person to their desired destination within a predefined flight range. Vahana is calling the technology the future of urban air mobility. The vehicle comes with a radar, encrypted communication, lidar, GPS, cameras, full sensor coverage, a parachute and an all-electric drivetrain.

Earlier this year FlightHouse Engineering formed a partnership with Vahana to design and manufacture the composite airframes of the Vahana.