The prototype, which combines a self-driving electric car with a passenger drone, performed its first public test flight at the Drone Week in Amsterdam. The maiden test consisted of the flight module accurately placing a passenger capsule on the ground module, which then drove autonomously.
Mind you, the Pop.Up Next prototype is still a 1:4 scale model but the test proved the viability of the concept. Audi claims the full-size version will arrive within the next decade, offering customers “a convenient and efficient flying taxi service in large cities.” Without changing vehicles, passengers will be able to fly and drive to their destination.
“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,” said Audi board member for sourcing and IT, Dr. Bernd Martens, who is also president of Italdesign.
So what’s next for the flying taxi project? Well, Audi is conducting tests in South America in cooperation with Airbus’ subsidiary Voom. When customers book helicopter flights in Mexico City or Sao Paulo, an Audi vehicle is used to complete the journey to or from the landing site. This helps the company understand the customers’ needs better, before Pop.Up Next becomes operational.
Audi will begin testing its flying taxi soon at its site in Ingolstadt as part of the Urban Air Mobility project.