WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
It seems noone wants to be left out of the flying Robo-Taxi race, so now Audi are teaming up with Airbus to develop their own concept.
Flying Robo-Taxis, which rather than the flying cars people envisaged in the 1960’s are in reality more like large passenger drones, or small VTOL aircraft, you pick, are real. And increasingly companies, from Airbus to Uber, and from Ehang to the hydrogen fuel cell powered Skai, are gearing up to roll them out at several locations around the world, from Dubai to Singapore.
As part of the Urban Air Mobility project, Airbus unveilled the air taxi CityAirbus in the Audi town of Ingolstadt. The electric aircraft with eight rotors takes off and lands vertically and will be able to transport up to four passengers. The model still has its maiden flight ahead of it.
With the words “maiden flight soon” Airbus announced via Twitter that this is only a matter of time. The maiden flight is planned at the airport in the German city of Manching near Ingolstadt – about 60 km away from the development site at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth, and follows hot on the heels of other sky taxi demonstrations in Germany by Mercedes-Benz backed Volocopter.
Courtesy: Audi Airbus
The development of the CityAirbus is embedded in the EU initiative Urban Air Mobility, which is to conduct practical studies on the use of aircraft for urban mobility. It is not yet clear which concrete pilot projects will be launched in the course of the initiative. However, it is clear that a total of 14 continental European cities are participating – including Ingolstadt, Hamburg, Toulouse, Antwerp, Brussels and Geneva.
This also explains why Airbus has now presented its air taxi in Ingolstadt. In the not too distant future, electric air taxis will be operated manually or autonomously in the city. The pilot project in the Bavarian city is supported by the Ingolstadt Technical University, the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt and various companies, including Audi who increasingly seem to be diversifying into everything from flying taxis to lunar rovers…
Back in 2018, Airbus and Audi presented an autonomous concept for horizontal and vertical e-mobility at the Geneva Motor Show under the name Pop.Up Next that consists of a two-seater passenger cabin that can be coupled with either a car module or a flight module as you can see from the pictures in that article.
Since then air taxis have begun taking off. Airbus rival Boeing for example recently presented their take on a passenger VTOL. Aurora Flight Sciences, an aviation taxi developer acquired by Boeing in 2017 and now operating as a subsidiary of the aviation company developed the concept and is one of a number of firms that have partnered with Uber in an effort to develop a network of “flying taxis.” These are supposed to operate on the ride-hailing company’s forthcoming Uber Elevate product, planned for launch in 2023.