Volkswagen has joined a number of businesses that are trying to harness the future technologies of flying vehicles, such as Uber, Hyundai, Daimler, and Airbus. The German car giant is running a feasibility test on flying cars in China.
“Beyond autonomous driving, the concept of vertical mobility could be the next step to take our mobility approach into the future, especially in the technically affine Chinese market,” the German company said in a statement. Also, it added that therefore they are investigating potential concepts and partners in a feasibility study to identify the possibility to industrialize this approach.
In a conversation with Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess on Linkedin, Stephan Woellenstein, China’s head of the carmaker, said the firm aimed to build a drone that could be approved, giving it a way to engage in this potential business. China is the biggest automotive market in the world and still accounts for half of Volkswagen’s sales. This announcement comes as businesses scramble for cash on the commercial ‘Robo-taxis’ segment, which will be worth $1.5 trillion by 2040. While it sounds thrilling, vertical mobility carries with it many more problems, including safety and durability relative to electric mobility. Flying aircraft will need to fly in overcrowded airspace and will also need a legal system that will take years to materialize.
In addition to major players including Volkswagen and Airbus, those proposals are sought by companies like U.S.-based Joby, Germany’s Lilium, and Volocopter, whose financial supporters include Daimler and Intel.
Lilium, headquartered in Munich, said that in November it would set up the first U.S. hub near Orlando, bringing more than 20 million Floridians inside its winged electrical aircraft, which could take off vertically and span 300 km (185 miles).