Airbus, Italdesign propose modular flying car


Italdesign and Airbus have unveiled their Pop.Up concept for a modular, fully electric, zero emission concept vehicle system that incorporates a passenger vehicle capsule coupled to ground or air transport modules.

The companies said during the 87th Geneva International Motor Show that the concept is aimed at reducing traffic congestion. The system includes an artificial intelligence platform, a vehicle shaped as a passenger capsule designed to be coupled with two different and independent electric propelled modules (the ground module and the air module), and an interface module that dialogues with users in a fully virtual environment.

The Pop.Up vehicle combines the flexibility of a small two seater ground vehicle with the freedom and speed of a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air vehicle, thus bridging the automotive and aerospace domains, Airbus and automotive design company Italdesign said.

Passengers would plan their journey and book their trip via an app. The system would automatically suggest the best transport solution – according to user knowledge, timing, traffic congestion, costs, ridesharing demands – joining either the air or ground module or other means of transportation to the passenger capsule, and following passengers’ preferences and needs. 

At the heart of the concept is a capsule: designed to accommodate passengers. This monocoque carbon-fibre cocoon will measure 2.6 metres long, 1.4 metres high, and 1.5 metres wide. The capsule would transform into a city car by simply coupling to a ground module, which features a carbon-fibre chassis and is battery powered.

For megacity journeys with high congested traffic, the capsule would disconnect from the ground module and be carried by a 5 by 4.4 metre air module propelled by eight counter-rotating rotors. In this configuration, Pop.Up would become an urban self-piloted air vehicle. 

Once passengers reach their destination, the air and ground modules with the capsule autonomously return to dedicated recharge stations to wait for their next customers.
“Adding the third dimension to seamless multi-modal transportation networks will without a doubt improve the way we live and how we get from A to B,” said Mathias Thomsen, General Manager for Urban Air Mobility at Airbus, on the occasion of the unveil. “Successfully designing and implementing solutions that will work both in the air and on the ground requires a joint reflection on the part of both aerospace and automotive sectors, alongside collaboration with local government bodies for infrastructure and regulatory frameworks.”