For decades, the world has been hearing and dreaming about flying cars, but recently, development has focussed attention not to making transportation that flies above the congestion but to transportation that doesn’t take up as much space or resources.
But what if we could have both?
Carmaker Audi, airplane-maker Airbus and engineering and design firm Italdesign, have teamed up to create an electric micro-car that can soar above the traffic when needed, instead of following along in a conga line.
“Creativity is needed where new mobility concepts for cities and people’s diverse needs are concerned,” said Dr. Bernd Martens, Audi Board Member for Procurement and President of Italdesign. “Italdesign is an incubator for innovative technologies and radical prototyping. Pop.Up Next is an ambitious vision that could permanently change our urban life in the future.”
Introduced at the recent Geneva Motor Show, the Pop.Up Next is a pure electric, fully automatic modular concept that is basically an ultra-light 2-seat cabin that can be transported through a city on an automotive base or over the buildings by a 4-propeller drone. It is the latest version of the Pop.Up, the collaboration between Airbus and Italdesign introduced at the 2017 Geneva show.
Over the year, the partners have worked on bringing together governments, thought leaders and other stakeholders on various continents, with Audi joining the program with its know-how on battery technology and automation.
“Last year Pop.Up marked a new — and as we believe highly significant — chapter in the transportation sector by bringing together two worlds, road mobility and air transport, which had never previously met,” said Jörg Astalosch, CEO of Italdesign. “The close cooperation with the premium brand Audi confirms that the project could become the standard bearer for future mobility, based on new technologies, sustainability, digitalisation and urbanization; all sectors in which Audi is a leading company. These are also the pillars that underpin Audi’s strategy and are fully embodied in Pop.Up Next. So we are proud having been asked to show this idea as Audi – engineered by Italdesign, following our Human Centred Design and Engineering approach.”
Over the year, Airbus and Italdesign worked on reducing weight, fine-tuning the coupling mechanism for both the road and air modules, and refining the aerodynamic design of the cabin and rotor ducts to improve performance and reduce power consumption. Airbus also worked on harmonizing the cabin presentation to integrate the Audi design language.
The second generation is lighter than its predecessor, with a redesigned interior that’s permeated by a 49-inch screen, which is basically the instrument panel. Occupants control the systems by voice or touch, with the technology able to recognize faces and track eye movements.
The next generation will integrate an fully autonomous control system (the Pop.Up Next already takes advantage of “by-wire” steering and braking for remote operation), which is where Audi will add further expertise, as one of the leaders in autonomous drive development.