On Tuesday, Airbus and Audi managed to fly a car through the RAI exhibition hall in Amsterdam. The car in question is a scale model of an autonomous taxidrone that the companies are developing together. 

It consists of a passenger capsule that can be connected to an airborne or road-going module. The capsule, which will accommodate two passengers, contains the control panel where the destination can be entered. To enter flying mode, the drone module is locked into place on the capsule, after which the resulting combination rises vertically. When the combination arrives near the destination, it lands. Then a chassis module drives underneath it. The drone module then disconnects, and the capsule continues as a car the size of a Smart (2.5 m long, 1.4 m high and 1.5 m wide). The rotors (5 x 4.4 m) fly independently to a charging station.

The taxidrone (see photo above) is currently exhibited in the RAI, where the Amsterdam Drone Week is being held over the next few days. The demonstration, which ran flawlessly, used a 1:4 scale model.


It is still unclear when the fully electric flying taxi, which has been baptised Pop.Up Next, will actually fly. The makers’ main aim with the concept is to show their vision on mobility in the future. For the design, Airbus and Audi entered into a partnership with Italdesign, which has designed numerous cars over the past decades.

According to the designers, this method of travel makes maximum use of all the space available, because the design divides transport between road and air, and minimises the number of parked vehicles on the ground. The question remains as to if and when this future scenario will ever become a reality. This depends on technological developments as well as regulations.

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