Airbus just announced a new conceptual car-and-drone project called Pop.Up. And I know. I know! This feels like the 100th car-drone concept we’ve shown you in the last few years. (Hell, it’s not even the first one announced at the Geneva Motor Show.) But this time, the car is the drone. The drone is the car. And, in Airbus’ fantastic future world, you can seamlessly transition from car to flying car to train all without lifting your butt off the seat. Okay, I’m listening.
Pop.Up revolves around a small, Smart Car-sized monocoque (or “passenger capsule,” as Airbus calls it) that can be used in multiple modes of transportation. The conceptual video, seen above, shows a woman summoning the capsule to her home in self-driving car form. It takes her to a parking garage where a giant quadcopter scoops the capsule up to fly her the rest of the way to her destination. Later in the video we see a row of the capsules embedded inside a sort of train (or hyperloop), too.
The whole system is (theoretically) powered by artificial intelligence, which Airbus says will develop a “seamless travel experience” by dodging congestion. There’s also an augmented reality component, which at one point is used to prod the rider for feedback on a proposed bike lane.
Airbus partnered with Italian design firm Italdesign, which shaped production cars like the original Volkswagen Golf and dozens of concepts for BMW, Alfa Romeo, and more. But this particular design is so futuristic that it plays like concept bingo. Vertical take-off and landing? Check! Zero-emission electric motors? Check! AI and AR? Double check!
Pop.Up is a neat idea that is more likely to show up in a video game before it ever crosses into a reality. Unsurprisingly, Airbus hasn’t announced a time frame for the project.