At Drone Week in Amsterdam Audi, Airbus and Italdesign presented for the first time a flying and driving prototype of “Pop.Up Next” - a concept for a flying taxi that combines a self-driving electric car with a passenger drone.
In the first public test flight, the flight module accurately placed a passenger capsule on the ground module, which then drove from the test grounds autonomously. However, the demo included 1:4 scale models.
Audi promises to bring flying taxi services in large cities – in multi-modal operation, in the air and on the road - in the coming decade.
"Flying taxis are on the way. We at Audi are convinced of that," says Dr. Bernd Martens, Audi board member for sourcing and IT, and president of the Audi subsidiary Italdesign. "More and more people are moving to cities. And more and more people will be mobile thanks to automation. In future senior citizens, children, and people without a driver’s license will want to use convenient robot taxis. If we succeed in making a smart allocation of traffic between roads and airspace, people and cities can benefit in equal measure."
Audi is testing the on-demand flying taxi service in South America in cooperation with the Airbus subsidiary Voom. Customers book helicopter flights in Mexico City or Sao Paulo, while an Audi is at the ready for the journey to or from the landing site.
Audi is also supporting the Urban Air Mobility flying taxi project in Ingolstadt. This initiative is preparing test operations for a flying taxi at Audi’s site, and is part of a joint project of the European Union in the framework of the marketplace for the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities. This project aims to convince the public of the benefits of the new technology and answer questions concerning battery technology, regulation, certification, and infrastructure.