According to some market watchers, autonomous taxis represent a more realistic technical approach than autonomous ones. In this field there is now a lot of competition – sometimes one company is ahead, sometimes the other. At the moment it seems to be the development group around Italdesign, Audi and Airbus: During the first public test flight, the flight module of this group placed a passenger capsule safely on the vehicle platform. This capsule then drove autonomously from the test site. It is still a 1:4 model. But already in the next decade Audi customers could use a comfortable and efficient air taxi service in large cities – multimodally, in the air and on the road. Passengers can enjoy their leisure time, relax or work without having to change planes.
“Air taxis will come. We at Audi are convinced of this,” says Bernd Martens, Audi Board Member for Procurement/IT and President of the Audi subsidiary Italdesign. “More and more people are moving to the cities. And automation will make more and more people mobile. Especially the elderly, children or people without a driver’s license will enjoy using comfortable robotic taxis in the future. If we manage to distribute traffic intelligently across the road and airspace, cities and their inhabitants will benefit equally.”
Together with Airbus helicopter rental subsidiary Voom, Audi has been testing what such an on-demand service could look like in South America since this summer. Customers book helicopter flights in Mexico City or Sao Paulo, while an Audi is available for the trip to or from the landing site. “Such offers help us to better understand the needs of our customers. In the future, air taxis will appeal to a broad spectrum of city dwellers. With Pop.Up Next, we are also exploring the limits of what is technically feasible. The next step is for a full-size prototype to fly and drive,” says Dr. Martens.
Audi is also supporting the “Urban Air Mobility” air taxi project in Ingolstadt. The initiative prepares the air taxi test operation at the Audi site and is part of a joint EU project within the framework of the marketplace for “European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities”. This project aims to convince the population of the advantages of the new technology and seeks answers to questions relating to battery technology, regulation, certification and infrastructure.