Despite countless concepts dating back to the 1950s, flying cars are still only taking to the sky in pie form. However, the drone revolution has given rise to another kind of flying vehicle for the masses; the flying taxi.
Most flying taxi concepts resemble giant quad-copter drones designed to carry people quickly and autonomously across cities. However, most are simply a new take on helicopters that won’t be able to offer the door-to-door convenience of conventional taxis and ride-sharing services.
So Audi has teamed up with Airbus and Audi subsidiary company Italdesign to create a giant drone that can carry a passenger pod that can, after it lands, turn in to a car to get you to and from landing spot without changing vehicles.
The syndicate revealed a 1:4 scale model of its Pop.Up Next concept at Drone Week in Amsterdam, with Audi board member for sourcing and IT Dr Bernd Martens declaring that "flying taxis are on the way. We at Audi are convinced of that”.
“In future, senior citizens, children, and people without a driver's license will want to use convenient robot taxis,” he continued. “If we succeed in making a smart allocation of traffic between roads and airspace, people and cities can benefit in equal measure.”
Audi and Airbus subsidiary Voom has already tested the idea in South America, using helicopters to shuttle people across heavily congested metropolises like Mexico City and Sau Paulo, Brazil, while Audi provided a car for the journey to or from the landing site.
"Services like this help us to understand our customers' needs better,” said Dr Marten’s. “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.