Showcasing what could be the future of human transportation, Airbus and Italdesign unveiled their Pop.Up concept vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show yesterday – a modular ground and air transport system. With the goal of tackling rush hour traffic around the world, the companies have essentially created a car paired with a drone that can swoop down, pick it up and transport passengers far above the traffic below. Passengers use a smartphone app to call for the drone, and Airbus says the vehicle might one day be able to pair with future transport systems like Hyperloop.
According to Airbus, their modular concept includes a capsule that connects to either a ground or air module, and can be integrated into other means of transportation. Trips in the vehicle are entirely managed by an artificial intelligence platform that offers passengers multiple optimized choices of transport combinations based on where and how they want to travel. Passengers can interact with the computer through their smartphone app, and enjoy the stress-free ride of an autonomous vehicle that travels on both land and air.
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The heart of the vehicle is the capsule, designed to house passengers. It becomes a city car by connecting with a battery-powered chassis ground module made of carbon fiber, to become an electric city car for two people. When traffic becomes too much to bear, the passengers can call on the air module powered by eight counter-rotating motors to come and pick up the capsule – leaving the chassis on the ground. It then essentially becomes a vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL), autonomous urban air vehicle.
Airbus notes that upon depositing passengers at their destination, both the air and ground modules autonomously return to their respective charging stations to wait for their next customers.
While it’s exciting, the project is likely to remain a concept for the time being, as neither Airbus nor Italdesign make any mention about production or launch of their new creation. Airbus technology incubator, A3 is, however, hard at work on Project Vahana – a futuristic urban transit system that includes single-passenger aircraft.
Images via Italdesign