Aeronautics industry giant Airbus is teaming up with hardware early-stage investment firm HAX to create a four-month accelerator program based in Shenzhen focused on a high-flying goal – "urban air mobility." The program will seek to guide startups working on various aspects of flying cars and aerial city transportation, including air traffic management, perception systems, autonomous flight and collisions avoidance.
The program will offer participants a minimum $100,000 as an upfront investment, as well as advice and guidance from experts on both the HAX and Airbus teams, across the four-month long program.
This is the latest in a string of interesting developments around short-haul urban air transportation tech, which includes a number of startups with strong backing, like Sebastian Thrun's Kitty Hawk. Airbus has also been developing its own vertical take-off and landing craft (VTOL) strategy through its Vahanna project, and it's become an area of focus for investors and engineering training in the world of Silicon Valley.
The new program likely won't be the last of its kind, but it will be interesting to see what kinds of startups form around this opportunity given that the timeline for putting autonomous aircraft to work in a commercial capacity at scale, profitably, seems quite a long ways out.