Airbus has unveiled a new concept ‘transformer’ taxi that could put an end to traffic jams
Called Pop.Up, the modular system consist of a two-seater capsule that functions as a car or can be carried to the rider’s destination by a vertical take-off and landing air vehicle when the roads are too congested.
Once passengers reach their destination, both the the air and ground modules will return to dedicated recharge stations, where they will wait to be summoned by the next customers.
Pop.Up is a collaboration between Airbus and Italdesign, a design and engineering firm based in Italy, which introduced the concept to the world at the Geneva international Motor Show.
‘Today, automobiles are part of a much wider eco-system: if you want to design the urban vehicle of the future, the traditional car cannot alone be the solution for megacities, you also have to think about sustainable and intelligent infrastructure, apps, integration, power systems, urban planning, social aspects, and so on,’ said Italdesign CEO Jörg Astalosch in a press release.
‘In the next years ground transportation will move to the next level and from being shared, connected and autonomous it will also go multimodal and moving into the third dimension.’
Passengers simply book their trip using a companion app and the system automatically suggests the best transportation solution based on timing, traffic congestion, costs and ridesharing demands.
Using this information, Pop.Up lists what options it feels are reasonable for your journey- either the ground, the air or combination of both.
The two-seater capsule, which will roll up at your location once you’ve ordered it, consist of monocoque carbon-fiber cocoon that measures 8.5 feet (2.6 meters) long, 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) high, and 16 feet (meters) wide.
And it is capable of transforming into a car by coupling to the ground module, which runs on a battery – it can travel for 62 miles (100 kilometers) on a single charge.
The capsule will scan the passengers face for authenticity and according to a concept video, it will also show content on the screen for users to watch as they travel.
But, if you find yourself in traffic, simply call for a vertical take-off and landing air vehicle to pick you and the capsule up.
‘For megacity journeys with high congested traffic, the capsule disconnects from the ground module and is carried by a 5 by 4.4 meter air module propelled by eight counter-rotating rotors,’ Airbus explained.
‘In this configuration, Pop.Up becomes an urban self-piloted air vehicle, taking advantage of the third dimension to get from A to B efficiently whilst avoiding traffic congestion on the ground.’
Once passengers have reached their destination, the capsule and the aerial vehicle travel back to dedicated recharge stations where they wait to be summoned by their next customer.
Pop.Up is deemed the first modular, fully electric, zero emission concept vehicle system, designed to relieve traffic congestion in crowded megacities – Airbus noted that more than 10 million people will be living in megacities in the next 30 years.
‘The feasible concept is the result of Italdesign and Airbus’ joint reflection on how to address the mobility challenges of megacities achievable for a majority, which has become one of the most pressing issues for commuters in megacities worldwide,’ shared Airbus.
‘With traffic congestion projected to hugely increase by 2030, the companies decided to combine their engineering expertise to tackle how to best achieve a sustainable, modular and multimodal urban mobility system – giving rise to the Pop.Up concept.’
Airbus also explained that the Pop.Up system is setup in a three layer concept.
First, there is an artificial intelligence platform that determines the best route to use and offers passengers choices.
The second is the capsule that is ‘designed to be coupled with two different and independent electric propelled modules’.
And the last layer, is an interface module that dialogues with users in a fully virtual environment.
‘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.’
However, Aribus noted that its Pop.Up system will not be a working system until 2024 to 2027.