Oh those flying cars in Jetsons and Science fiction! It is unarguably the most sought after future stuff that we have been waiting to get our hands on. Automobile, aviation and even technology manufacturers across a spectrum of sectors have been busy rolling out concepts and make them viable. One such concept has just been rolled out by Audi and Airbus, and they look serious in making it a reality.
The German automobile behemoth teamed up with Airbus and Italdesign to demo the prototype of a drone-taxi during Drone Week at Amsterdam. It was a 1:4 scaled down prototype and Audi pegged it as the future of urban mobility. They call it ‘The Pop-Up Next’.
More and more people are moving to cities. And more and more people will be mobile thanks to automation. In the 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 Dr. Bernd Martens, Audi board member for sourcing and IT, and president of the Audi subsidiary Italdesign.
The demo gave us insights as to how the machine would function completely automatically without a single human input. There are 3 crucial components to the machine – the drone, the modular car & the cabin/pod. First, a drone with huge brackets lands onto a predetermined spot. And then an automated electric car by Audi; in which a detachable pod sit atop a wheelbase rolls in and adjusts itself between these brackets. The pod detaches from the car and docks itself to the drone.
The drone then flies the pod/compartment to the desired location where it lands and the pod unloads itself onto another similar modular. Not quite like the vision of going up to your garage and firing up the thrusters of your car and flying away we imagined. But we are getting there. Audi said they were aware of the obstacles they would face to bring this project to fruition since the technology is still at a nascent stage. They said the next step would be to design a full-scale prototype capable of transporting humans. And that we could see this out in the streets in a decade’s time.
Audi isn’t alone in this race to pioneer this technology. If it succeeds in the near future, people could well look up to it as one of the biggest advancements in the history of mankind. And no big company wants to miss out on that. According to reports Google and Uber have invested large chunks of money into the thriving flying car startup business. A Chinese drone maker – EHang even came out with an Autonomous taxi drone (looks a lot like a miniature helicopter) capable of carrying human weights earlier this year.