Automotive

Italdesign and Airbus reach for the skies in Geneva

Italdesign and Airbus reach fo...
Italdesign and Airbus Pop.Up concept
Italdesign and Airbus Pop.Up concept
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The Pop.Up passenger cell is designed to decouple from the wheeled module
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The Pop.Up passenger cell is designed to decouple from the wheeled module
A truly unique sight in Geneva
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A truly unique sight in Geneva
The Pop.Up's multicopter relies on eight counter-rotating rotors
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The Pop.Up's multicopter relies on eight counter-rotating rotors
The passenger cell has a simple design with transparent doors and a digital interface
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The passenger cell has a simple design with transparent doors and a digital interface
Inside the Pop.Up passenger cell
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Inside the Pop.Up passenger cell
Inside the Pop.Up passenger cell
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Inside the Pop.Up passenger cell
Italdesign and Airbus reveal the Pop.Up concept at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
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Italdesign and Airbus reveal the Pop.Up concept at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
The companies say that the Pop.Up concept could be realized within seven to 10 years ... but will it?
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The companies say that the Pop.Up concept could be realized within seven to 10 years ... but will it?
Pop.Up concept at the Geneva Motor Show
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Pop.Up concept at the Geneva Motor Show
Italdesign focuses its attention on the Pop.Up system and doesn't provide much in the way of hardware specs
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Italdesign focuses its attention on the Pop.Up system and doesn't provide much in the way of hardware specs
Travel by land or air
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Travel by land or air
The Pop.Up concept features an app, a passenger cell, and land and air transportation modules
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The Pop.Up concept features an app, a passenger cell, and land and air transportation modules
Pop.Up concept sketch
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Pop.Up concept sketch
Pop.Up concept sketch
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Pop.Up concept sketch
Pop.Up ready for vertical take-off
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Pop.Up ready for vertical take-off
The multicopter prepares to drop the passenger cell on a ground chassis
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The multicopter prepares to drop the passenger cell on a ground chassis
Pop.Up concept navigating the road
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Pop.Up concept navigating the road
Pop.Up concept soaring above the city traffic
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Pop.Up concept soaring above the city traffic
Italdesign and Airbus Pop.Up concept
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Italdesign and Airbus Pop.Up concept
Italdesign and Airbus Pop.Up concept
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Italdesign and Airbus Pop.Up concept
The Pop.Up drives autonomously both on the ground and in the air
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The Pop.Up drives autonomously both on the ground and in the air
Italdesign and Airbus Pop.Up concept
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Italdesign and Airbus Pop.Up concept
A very different type of vehicle also on display in Italdesign's Geneva booth: the Zerouno sports car
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A very different type of vehicle also on display in Italdesign's Geneva booth: the Zerouno sports car
The Zerouno is a race car-inspired, street-legal supercar with a 5.2-liter V10 engine
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The Zerouno is a race car-inspired, street-legal supercar with a 5.2-liter V10 engine
The Zerouno is the first release from the all-new Italdesign Automobili Speciali brand, which focuses on ultra-low series production cars
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The Zerouno is the first release from the all-new Italdesign Automobili Speciali brand, which focuses on ultra-low series production cars
Italdesign debuts the Zerouno at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
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Italdesign debuts the Zerouno at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
Italdesign's Zerouno wears carbon fiber bodywork 
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Italdesign's Zerouno wears carbon fiber bodywork 

The Geneva Motor Show has plenty of awe-inspiring concept cars, but one in particular rises above the rest ... quite literally. The fruits of a collaboration between aerospace manufacturer Airbus and design house Italdesign, the new Pop.Up concept blurs the line between the self-driving car and the VTOL flying car. Its removable passenger cell rides on the ground atop an electric vehicle chassis and decouples from that chassis to fly through the air below the whirring rotors of a self-piloted multicopter. Is this how commuters of the future will get from place to place?

Italdesign has done some work on autonomous car design, and Airbus is developing personal commuter drones, so it's not entirely a surprise that the Pop.Up concept finds middle ground between the two.

If you ignore the massive drone hanging above it at Geneva's Palexpo, the Pop.Up looks like your typical tiny, autonomous urban commuter concept. Its zero emissions electric powertrain and glass-heavy styling feel quite at home amongst other compact commuter show cars, like the Honda NeuV and Toyota I-Tril.

Pop.Up concept at the Geneva Motor Show
Pop.Up concept at the Geneva Motor Show

But that multicopter wasn't designed to be ignored, especially not at an auto show filled with grounded vehicles. It signifies the Pop.Up concept's unique blend of air-ground capabilities, which starts with an accompanying vehicle-sharing app. As the traveler books a ride, the app presents information about timing, costs, traffic, ride-sharing demand and more, working with the customer to create the ideal route over the ground and through the air between beginning and end points.

The completely autonomous Pop.Up relies on three pieces of hardware to complete the road-air journey. The simple, two-seat 8.5 x 4.6 x 4.9-ft (2.6 x 1.4 x 1.5-m, L x H x W) passenger cell can couple to either the electric motor-driven, carbon fiber ground chassis or the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air module, depending upon whether a ground or air route is preferable. With real-time information sharing, the system could even make changes mid-route, swooping in with the multicopter after heavy traffic leaves the ground module stuck in a traffic jam – a dream of literally everyone who's ever spent precious minutes in a bumper-to-bumper backup.

At the end of the journey, the Pop.Up air/ground modules return to their charging stations and await the next app-ordered ride.

The multicopter prepares to drop the passenger cell on a ground chassis
The multicopter prepares to drop the passenger cell on a ground chassis

Italdesign and Airbus present the Pop.Up as a way of alleviating traffic problems in future megacities. By utilizing air space above highways and city streets, the Pop.Up helps users breeze past congested arteries while also pulling a vehicle off those overburdened roads.

Beyond just basic ground and air modes, Italdesign and Airbus also imagine a Pop.Up-style capsule integrating with public transportation. The copter could drop the capsule aboard a train car, for instance, either as a more efficient means of local commuting or for a longer distance journey. Whatever means it uses for the specific trip, the system gets the passenger from Point A to Point B inside a single comfy passenger cell, without the need to board or de-board separate vehicles.

"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, Airbus general manager for urban air mobility.

Italdesign and Airbus reveal the Pop.Up concept at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show
Italdesign and Airbus reveal the Pop.Up concept at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show

The Pop.Up might look like complete science fiction by today's standards, but Airbus and Italdesign believe a Pop.Up-like transportation system could be realized within seven to 10 years. Of course, that would entail a lot of work and cooperation from many parties, including regulators.

"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," Thomsen recognizes.

For now, it's just a concept ... but a pretty damn cool one. Watch the video for a vision of how the concept would work shuttling folks around the city and check out more Geneva photos in our gallery.

Sources: Italdesign, Airbus

Urban mobility takes shape with Italdesign and Airbus’ Pop.Up

10 comments
MattII
Solves one of the issues of the traditional flying car, but adds several more unique ones.
JamesDemello
I have a cheaper solution: everyone stays home 3 days a week. Now that is just as feasible if not more so than a flying car. You could even sell and buy credits from other folks and use their days. I will stay home 5 days a week if you pay me.
Jimjam
PRT looks like a better bet than flying cars.
LarryWolf
Why not shrink the width of those propellers units (4) and then make them robotically stack 4 into 1 on top of the car so that you carry the rotors with you always. Just push a button and the rotors all slide out into locked positions and the car decouples and voila off you go??
Helios
Single occupant vehicles built for an infrastructure that is not pedestrian or bicycle friendly is the problem. We don't need a solution to get single passengers somewhere faster. At any rate, when autonomous vehicles are fully online, traffic congestion will be a thing of the past because the wink link in traffic management will be removed, idiot drivers. The solution then is to start over and build cities that are walkable with mass transit that works.
Bob Flint
3 separate complex modules to transport one or two people?.....Really!
Douglas Bennett Rogers
This looks like it has a solid niche in urban air taxi service.
Sven Hackmann
Italdesign’s project partnership with Airbus will result in an entirely new transportation paradigm. The Pop.Up concept is the first low altitude automated transportation system that has the potential of being realized within a relatively short time frame. Future challenges relate to regulation – technology has been solved.
Nairda
Of all the oddball designs, this aligns more with what I think the future of a flying taxi might look like. The benefit is each module can charge independently, and navigate to suit. Just hope the top half is maintained to the standard of an airplane, not like a Taxi. :)
ljaques
That's a new concept, combining ground, air, and rail (tube) travel. I love it! It should be a reality in a dozen or two years. But I sure as heck don't want to live in a big city. P.S: Don't do anything to anger the AI carrying your pod while you're in the air.