Move Over Luxury Cars, Germany Wants to Trial Flying Taxis

(Bloomberg) -- Germany, land of the no-holds-barred Autobahn, is pushing the next level of transportation: flying cars.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 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.

The trial in Audi’s hometown is meant to counter clogged city roads and unlock new growth potential for Germany’s high-tech industry, the government’s press office said Wednesday in an emailed statement.

“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.”

Flying car technology is closer than people think. At the Geneva Motor Show in March, Audi and Airbus demonstrated a mobility concept based on an ultra-light, two-seater passenger cabin that can be attached either to a car or a drone. Volocopter GmbH, a German startup backed by Intel Corp. and Daimler AG that has built a drone-like electric helicopter to ferry travelers across city skies, has completed test flights and seeks to offer first commercial trips in the next three to five years.

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