Yesterday saw the joint launch of a new modular passenger transport concept from Airbus and Italdesign at Geneva’s 87th International Motor Show. ‘Pop.Up’ – as it has been dubbed – is a fully electric, zero emission concept vehicle system designed to relieve traffic congestion in crowded megacities. “Pop.Up envisages a modular system for multi-modal transportation that makes full use of both ground and airspace.” states the press release. Say what now? That basically means that it’s a mix of oversized drone technology and AI controlled road transport.
To put it simply, the two companies see a future whereby passengers plan their journey and book their trip via an easy-to-use app. The system automatically suggests 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.
For megacity journeys with high congested traffic, the capsule disconnects from the ground module and is carried by a separate air module propelled by eight counter-rotating rotors. In this configuration, Pop.Up becomes a 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 reach their destination, the air and ground modules with the capsule autonomously return to dedicated recharge stations to wait for their next customers. (Although it isn’t clear how a capsule dropped off by air can then start its journey again by road, without some kind of leverage device)
Thanks to the possibility of combining the capsule also with other means of public transportation, the Pop.Up offers a seamless travel experience. The user can stay for the entire journey in the same capsule without worrying about switching between different travel modes and enjoy the entire commute time, with real time interaction between the capsule and the surrounding urban environment and communities.
Aerospace leader Airbus is harnessing its expertise to actively develop a number of radical concepts that will contribute to relieving urban congestion. “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. Italdesign, with its long track record of exceptional vehicle design was an exciting partner for Airbus for this unique concept project.”
“Italdesign is a service company, created to provide services and mobility solutions to interested parties worldwide. It is deeply rooted in our DNA to search for future state-of-the-art solutions,” said Italdesign CEO Jörg Astalosch. “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. 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” continued Astalosch. “We found in Airbus, the leader in aerospace, the perfect partner who shares this modern vision for the future of megacities to develop a sustainable multi-modal vision of megacity transportation,” he concluded.
We like the idea (in premise) and can see airlines globally embracing the technology in future, delivering passengers direct to their doorstep from the airport in a fleet of kitted out capsules, that could even mimic the airline’s passenger experience on the inside, making for a seamless passenger journey.