During the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show, Airbus and design and engineering company Italdesign unveiled an autonomous flying car concept called Pop.Up. Airbus calls it the first modular, fully electric, zero emission concept vehicle system designed to relieve traffic congestion in crowded megacities.

Airbus says 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.”

The Pop.Up has three main features. First, it incorporates an Artificial Intelligence platform that, based on its user knowledge, manages the travel complexity and offers alternative usage scenarios.

Second, the vehicle is shaped as a passenger capsule and is designed to be coupled with two different and independent electric propelled modules (a ground module and the air module). Airbus has suggested that other public means of transportation, including a future Hyperloop, could one day be compatible with the Pop.Up.

The capsule features a high-tech, monocoque carbon fiber cocoon that measures 2.6 meters long, 1.4 meters high, and 1.5 meters wide. The capsule transforms itself into a city car by simply coupling to the ground module, which features a carbon fiber chassis and is battery powered.

Lastly, the vehicle features an interface module that interacts with users in a fully virtual environment. Once passengers reach their destination, the air and ground modules with the capsule autonomously return to unique recharge stations to wait for their next customers.

Last year, A3, an Airbus subsidiary, launched a similar vehicle, the “Vahana,” a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) electric and autonomous aircraft designed to be an “air taxi.” As A³ CEO Rodin Lyasoff explains, the Vahana “sits at the convergence of trends in urban demographics and rapid improvements” in a number of technologies, including batteries, advanced sensors, and mass-produced lightweight composite structures.

  • Fascinating multi-modal concept. This exemplifies how the next big transportation challenges may be tied to regulatory approvals and public policy – no longer technology solutions alone.

    Tremendous potential relative to testing next gen materials and manufacturing in the process of launching the Pop.Up project!

    Sven Hackmann