In March, Audi showed off the Pop.Up Next concept, a flying taxi vehicle designed in partnership between Italdesign and Airbus. On Tuesday, Audi completed the first public test for the futuristic transportation model.
The Pop.Up Next prototype took flight at Drone Week in Amsterdam, though the vehicle tested was 1:4 scale model. Audi said a full-scale model could be ready as soon as next decade. The Pop.Up combines two vehicles in one: a self-driving electric car for the streets and an automated flying taxi module for the sky.
Pop.Up Next concept
The idea is passengers remain inside the cabin while driving, and the flying taxi can seamlessly shift to leave the car body behind and take off with the drone capsule. Thus, the drone portion docks onto the car body when driving. The successful 1:4 model test showed the concept is possible with a successful placement of the passenger compartment on the "ground module," or car body. The electric car drove itself from the test grounds on its own.
The concept can travel 31 miles on electric power on the ground, while it'll go 81 miles in the air on a full charge, according to Audi.
Pop.Up Next concept
Audi said it's "convinced" that flying taxis are on the way and it will open up a whole new way for pedestrians to travel, especially as more people move into city centers and urban areas. Audi is also trialing what an on-demand air taxi service could be like in South America. In partnership with Airbus' Voom subsidiary, the brand has opened an on-demand helicopter service. Passengers book flights in Sao Paulo, Brazil, or Mexico City and Audi takes care of the transportation.
Audi also plans to test the concept with the city of Ingolstadt, Audi's hometown. The city signed a letter of intent this past summer to test the flying taxi. City officials said the tests mark a huge opportunity, but there's no clear timeline on what prototypes could take to the air. That will likely depend on Audi, Italdesign, and Airbus' progress.