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Volkswagen wants in on the flying taxi buzz

The automaker will specifically take a look at the budding industry in China and said it plans to explore the sector and investigate possible partners.

Lilium concept
Germany's Lilium is one of many companies banking on this kind of future.

Volkswagen's thinking about a future where riders not only hop in an autonomous car, but take to the sky and fly over ground congestion. In the process, it becomes the latest in a number of automakers validating the idea of flying air taxis as a possible future form of city transportation.

On Tuesday, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said on LinkedIn the automaker wants to explore the possibilities of air taxis, specifically in China, where the automaker is taking over its previous joint ventures with China's FAW and SAIC. Those are big moves itself as China relaxes regulations requiring foreign automakers to buddy up with domestic ones.

"Beyond autonomous driving the concept of vertical mobility could be a next step to take our mobility approach into the future, especially in the technically affine Chinese market," Diess said in the LinkedIn post. VW wants to have a look at industrializing the sector and will look into partnerships to help make flying taxis a reality.

VW is far from alone. Companies from General Motors, to Hyundai and startups such as Volocopter and Lilium all either have small-scale prototypes or expressed interest in eventually building what we sometimes refer to as "flying cars." The industry seems settled on "eVTOLs" as the official term, which stands for "electric vertical take-off and landing" vehicles. They operate a lot like a helicopter, but they're smaller footprint and propulsion may make them an excellent transportation option in the future, if things pan out like so many companies believe they will. Right now, they'd need to include a pilot, but eventually, many companies foresee the vehicles as unmanned and totally autonomous. It could be the closest we get to "flying cars" darting around cities in the air like in The Jetsons.

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