Yes, you read that headline correctly; this is a story about an Audi flying taxi. At a recent drone convention in Amsterdam, Audi, Airbus and Italdesign presented a flying and driving prototype of Pop.Up Next. These three leading companies have partnered to create, what they believe, is the future of short-distance air travel.

Click here to read about Audi’s latest concept car.

Holy flying cars Batman

Pop.Up Next is an innovative concept for a flying taxi. It combines a self-driving electric car with a passenger drone. The idea is that a flight module, or drone, will place a passenger capsule on a self-driving car.

Initial tests have been carried out on a 1:4 scale model (pictured above), but Audi believes this flying taxi service could be used in large cities within a decade. The proposed system would allow users to use road and air modes of transportation without changing vehicles. Occupants can use the time in the time between destinations to relax, rest or work.

Audi is already conducting tests in South America in cooperation with the Airbus subsidiary Voom. Customers book helicopter flights in crowded cities such as Mexico City or Sao Paulo. At the end of the flight, an Audi is at the ready to continue the journey.

“Services like this help us to understand our customers’ needs better. Because in the future, flying taxis will appeal to a wide range of city dwellers. With Pop.Up Next we are simultaneously exploring the boundaries of what is technically possible. The next step is for a full-size prototype to fly and drive,” said Dr. Martens, Audi board member for sourcing and IT, and president of the Audi subsidiary Italdesign.

In his own words

“Flying taxis are on the way. We at Audi are convinced of that,” says Dr Martens “More and more people are moving to cities. And more and more people will be mobile thanks to automation. In 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.”

Click here to see a YouTube explanation of how it all works.