Airbus, Audi and its design consultancy Italdesign have demonstrated a prototype of their flying taxi concept “Pop.Up Next” for the first time.
The companies presented a 1:4 scale model of the concept, which combines a self-driving electric car with a passenger drone at a conference in Amsterdam this week.
During the demonstration, the flight module placed a passenger capsule on the ground module, which then drove from the test grounds autonomously.
Dr. Bernd Martens, Audi board member for sourcing and IT, and president of the Audi subsidiary Italdesign said, “Flying taxis are on the way. We at Audi are convinced of that.
“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 demand for a multi-modal transport service in South America in partnership with the Airbus subsidiary Voom. The tests involve enabling customers to book helicopter flights in Mexico City or Sao Paulo, with a vehicle ready for the journey to or from the landing site.
“Services like this help us to understand our customers’ needs better. Because in the future, flying taxis will appeal to a wide range of city dwellers. With Pop.Up Next we are simultaneously exploring the boundaries of what is technically possible. The next step is for a full-size prototype to fly and drive,” said Dr. Martens.
Audi and Airbus are also partnering on the Urban Air Mobility flying taxi project in Ingolstadt, Germany. This project is currently preparing a flying taxi for the start of test operations at Audi’s site in the city.