There is a big push in the automotive and aircraft design worlds to create the next generation of taxis that can ferry people around without causing more congestion on the roads. Many of these taxi designs have turned to flying machines that operate autonomously. Audi, Airbus, and Italdesign have unveiled the “Pop.Up Next” flying and driving taxi prototype and announced that it is in testing.
The concept combines an autonomous car with a passenger drone. So far, testing on the system has been limited to a 1:4 scale model, but the companies say that in the next decade Audi customers could see a convenient and efficient flying taxi service available in large cities. The service would allow the passengers to drive and fly without having to exit a vehicle.
Audi is conducting tests in South America with cooperation from Airbus subsidiary Voom, in this test Audi cars ferry people to booked helicopter flights in Mexico City or Sao Paulo. In the scale test flights, the flight module was able to place a passenger capsule on the ground module accurately. The ground module was then able to drive from the testing grounds autonomously.
Audi says that the next step in this program will be to develop a full-size prototype that can fly and drive. Audi’s Dr. Bernd Martens, an Audi board member for sourcing and IT and president of Italdesign, an Audi subsidiary, said that “flying taxis are on the way.”
Being able to fly to a destination and avoid any traffic on the ground and the annoyance that comes with dealing with other drivers is undeniably appealing to most. There is no indication of when the full-scale testing might happen.