While electric and autonomous vehicles remain in development, Germany is pushing the envelope when it comes to futuristic tech: exploring the possibility of flying cars.
The German government signed a letter of intent with Audi and Airbus SE executives to "test air taxis" in and around Audi's hometown of Ingolstadt.
The Urban Air Mobility project was announced by Audi interim CEO Bram Schot, Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer, Airbus CTO Grazia Vittadini, Mayor of Ingolstadt Dr. Christian Lösel, and other representatives.
"We welcome the involvement of the city of Ingolstadt and support the development of the region as a test field for air taxis," said Schot.
The trial is intended to counter clogged city roads and "unlock new growth potential" for Germany's high-tech industry, the government's press office said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
"We would like to use our know-how to improve urban life, and aim to develop new mobility concepts for cities and people's various needs with the Urban Air Mobility project," said Schot.
While flying cars may seem far off in the future, they could become a reality sooner than you think. At the Geneva Motor Show in March earlier this year, Audi, subsidiary Italdesign, and plane-maker Airbus SE unveiled their mobility concept: Pop.Up Next, an "an all-electric, fully automated concept for horizontal and vertical mobility."
Volocopter GmbH, a German startup backed by both Intel Corp. and Daimler, has built a "drone-like electric helicopter" that can ferry passengers across the city sky - and has already completed test flights. Volocopter GmbH hopes to offer the first commercial trips in the next three to five years.
"Flying taxis aren't a vision any longer, they can take us off into a new dimension of mobility," said Scheuer. "They're a huge opportunity for companies and young startups that already develop this technology very concretely and successfully."