Air taxis: The traffic solution of the future or just science fiction?


According to Wikipedia, disruptive technologies are innovations that "replace the success story of an existing technology, product or service, or completely displace it from the market". Air taxis could be one such innovation which brings dynamism into the taxi and mobility market. At least that's what they say. Others are more sceptical: Is there really anything behind all the hype around flying taxis?


For critics who dismiss air taxis lightly as science fiction, it is worth taking a look at Germany. The German Minister of Transport, Andreas Scheuer is known to be a big aviation fan, and has gone so far as to reveal that because his ministry is taking the topic so seriously it is already working on possible flight routes for the alternative taxis of the future


Numerous initiatives for working on air taxis
If you delve deeper into the topic, you will quickly realise that many initiatives for developing air taxis in fact exist. Airbus is working on the so-called "CityAirbus". EmbraerX, a Silicon Valley subsidiary of the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, is working together with the passenger transportation service provider Uber on the "Uber Elevate" project. And the German start-up Lilium is working on the "Lilium Jet". And these are just a few examples...
All projects are still in the testing and development stage. What the concepts have in common is that they only use electricity for operation and their function is based on the "VTOL" concept: This means you can take off and land vertically ("Vertical Take-Off and Landing") and manoeuvre in the tightest of spaces. This is what makes them so interesting, especially where space is at a premium. In the city, for instance


Air taxi concepts – autonomous flying using electricity
The CityAirbus, for example, is an electric aircraft which is designed to fly autonomously and provide fast, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly transportation of up to four passengers in busy cities. Further uses are feasible, in addition to just carrying passengers. Autonomously flying air taxis are also suitable for rapid transportation of blood bottles or medicines. At least in theory...



Study: Significant time savings and only slightly higher costs
Since air taxis operating in the cities do not have to join the mass of metal rolling along the streets which are normally busy and congested, they are basically faster and more flexible. The firm Porsche Consulting has investigated just how much faster this is. In a feasibility study using Hamburg as an example, the experts calculated that the transfer from the Hanseatic city's airport to the city centre would take three minutes and cost 35 euros. Conventional taxis need about 25 to 30 minutes to cover the distance (approximately 11 to 12 kilometres), depending on the volume of traffic - at a cost of almost exactly 30 euros. This could become reality as early as 2025.
Enormous leaps in the development of electrical, battery, sensor and computer technology mean that electric and autonomous flying will be possible in the foreseeable future, at least on short routes. Essentially, all the indications are that autonomously guided air taxis will become established sooner than autonomously guided cars. After all, air traffic is easier to control than road traffic, which is much more complex