Audi and Airbus are showing off at the latest iteration of their crazy concept for the future of urban transport at Amsterdam Drone week.
If these guys have their way, the future will see us in one cabin that transfers from an autonomous vehicle to the cab of a drone - while we don’t do a thing.
Audi is obviously supplying the vehicle aspect of the idea and Airbus the flight details while Italdesign provides the retro-futuristic styling.
The concept - called Pop.Up.Next has undergone a few design shifts at its various public appearance.
Audi says concept could be a reality within the decade
The latest version is a 1:4 scale model, but the companies involved say a full prototype is less than a decade away.
The idea of seamless travel from larger commercial flights to the center of cities is an idea that holds interest for many.
“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”, said Bernd Martens, president of Italdesign and member of Audi’s board.
Seamless transfer gets tested with helicopters and cars
Audi is testing the idea of seamless transfers at a slightly different scale by teaming up with the Airbus subsidiary Zoom to conduct tests in South America.
Customers can book helicopter flights in Mexico City to Sao Paulo and then an Audi is waiting for them for the journey to or from the landing site.
Audi is also involved with the Urban Air Mobility flying taxi project in Ingolstadt, Germany.
The project is making the necessary preparations for a flying taxi at Audi’s test site and is supported by the European Union in the framework of the marketplace for the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities.
EU backs autonomous vehicle development
The project aims to address the public's concerns about the new technology and answer questions concerning battery technology, regulation, certification, and infrastructure.
The flying car concept is being pursued by a range of players from Uber to Boeing.
One of the major hurdles is not the technology but the regulation around urban airspace.
Uber has reportedly teamed up with NASA to develop traffic concepts that would allow for safe regular flights of autonomous aircraft. They are also working with real estate developers to incorporate landing sites into future buildings.