Audi Now Has Permission to Test Flying 'Cars' in Germany

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
audi now has permission to test flying 8216 cars in germany

The flying car repeatedly proves itself as the dumbest idea since the industrial revolution kicked off. With the exception of takeoffs and landings, aircraft don’t need roads and automobiles aren’t really engineered for the sky. They’re typically far too heavy and have aerodynamics intended to keep them on the ground. A good car does not make for a good plane, and vice versa.

While a few flying cars do exist, they’re really just airplanes modified to allow for car-like earthbound driving. Functional, but not particularly effective on the road. That’s why the industry is shifting toward designs more akin to helicopters. The newest trend is to supersize drones and affix them to the top of lightweight self-driving automobiles.

That appears to be the direction Audi is headed in its partnership with Airbus. But surely this is engineering at is most masturbatory. If you’ll excuse the pun, these kinds of projects never really get off the ground. We see concept designs, hear some lofty promises, and then nothing ever comes of it. Moller International has been working on its SkyCar for decades and now the company is trading at a penny per share with nothing to show for itself but a concept capable of covering a couple feet from the pavement.

What does Audi have that’s so different?

Well, as previously stated, the automaker has partnered with Airbus and that’s a big deal. Airbus isn’t some paltry startup, it’s a humongous multinational corporation that designs, builds, and sells aircraft to civilian and government institutions. It also has government support. According to Bloomberg, the German government signed a letter of intent with executives from Volkswagen’s Audi unit and plane maker Airbus SE to test air taxis in and around the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt.

“Flying taxis aren’t a vision any longer, they can take us off into a new dimension of mobility,” said German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer. “They’re a huge opportunity for companies and young startups that already develop this technology very concretely and successfully.”

The companies, along with the Volkswagen-owned design company Italdesign, showed off a concept at the Geneva Motor Show last March. The setup involved lightweight EVs being picked up by an autonomous quadcopter, leaving the wheels, battery pack, and motor behind.

You’re probably wondering if this technology will ever come about in your lifetime. All we can give you is a big, fat maybe. It will probably happen, but widespread implementation is a dubious prospect. Widespread commuter flight seems reliant upon the perfection of automated driving/flying. Cost is another concern. Helicopters cost thousands to ensure annually and require quite a bit of pricy maintenance — and that’s on top of their very expensive MSRP, inspection fees, fuel and storage.

Electrified drones could cut down on some of that, but you’re still left with a system that has to perform perfectly to work at all. And we don’t just mean the mechanics; the infrastructure and automated systems required for navigation need to function error free for this to have any hope of becoming normalized. Regular checks and maintenance will be par for the course.

A trial date hasn’t been announced by either Audi or Airbus. But Volocopter GmbH, a German startup backed by Intel Corp. and Daimler, unveiled a similar concept earlier this month. It plans to begin offering its first commercial trips in “the next three to five years” after completing test flights in Dubai and Las Vegas. While that project seems further along in its development, Airbus’ knowhow should accelerate things quickly if this is indeed a serious project.

We’re perpetually skeptical on the issue, however.

[Images: Audi AG]

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  • Stanley Steamer Stanley Steamer on Jun 21, 2018

    German chicks are hot

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jun 21, 2018

      That was an excellent video. Did it have something to do with flying cars?

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jun 21, 2018

    "...the infrastructure and automated systems required for navigation need to function error free for this to have any hope of becoming normalized" Exactly right. The math for planetary flight was established in the 1600s, but the technology to achieve it didn't arrive until the 1900s. I'm sure we can solve the engineering problems of power-to-weight ratios, etc, but the security and 3-dimensional infrastructure for flight paths, etc have a long way to go. Maybe someone should put a feature called "Autopilot" in their car!

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?
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