Autonomous driving systems are on track to revolutionize how we get around town but the harsh reality is that vehicles capable of driving themselves full-time are still many years away.

Worse yet, benefits like improved efficiency due to reduced traffic congestion won’t be realized until the overwhelming majority of vehicles on the streets – or maybe even 100 percent of them – are of the autonomous nature.

Others, however, like Airbus Group believe the next mobile revolution won’t happen on the ground but rather, in the sky. 

Airbus CEO Tom Enders during a recent speaking engagement at the Digital – Life – Design (DLD) conference in Munich noted that one hundred years ago, urban transport went underground but now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground.

To that end, Enders said his company’s Urban Air Mobility division anticipates demonstrating a single-person flying vehicle by the end of the year. Airbus’ rendering shows a craft with eight rotors that should be able to take off and land vertically. Whether or not the prototype we see later this year looks exactly like the render, however, remains to be seen.

Consumer-grade flying vehicles present a number of obstacles although critically, the need to invest billions of dollars into the construction of roads and bridges isn’t one of them.