In just a few years, roads will not only be filled with autonomous cars, but perhaps even the skies will be crowded with flying taxis.
Science fiction? Possibly, but this time it seems to becoming a reality. Last week, automanufacturer Audi received approval from the German government to test experimental flying taxis in the city of Ingolstadt, where it's headquarters are located.
Audi will not attempt this venture alone. Another well-known German giant, Airbus, will partner on this project. German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said that flying taxis will create "a new dimension of mobility". He added that this type of means of transportation represents a huge opportunity for startups and companies like Audi that are already developing this technology.
Audi is not the only company wanting to jump into this arena. Uber has recently announced its intention to invest 20 million euros into the research and development of flying taxis. Work in this area will be performed in the suburbs of Paris with support from NASA.
The Americans and Germans will therefore battle to be the first to offer flying taxis. Somehow, it feels reminiscent of the space race between the Americans and the Russians in the late '50s and early '60s.
When the first tests will take place is uncertain. At the last Geneva motor show, Audi and Airbus showcased a concept vehicle; however, it was only for the show, according to experts.
For those who are interested, we have already inventerd flying cars. The experiment was previously tried at the beginning of the last century, and it was successful. After the Second World War, the Hall Flying Automobile, known as the Convair Model 118 was released; and everything seemed to indicate that the concept was heading towards large-scale production. Unfortunately, the project was forced to end due to an incident during a test flight, resulting in bad media publicity.
A little more than 70 years later, the project has been revived, this time more successfully.