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Mar 08, 2017 08:34 AM EST

Airbus and Italdesign Unveil Pop.Up, A Modular Flying Drone Car [Video]

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China's C919 passenger jet takes off for maiden flight

Collaboration between Airbus and Italdesign resulted in a concept modular vehicle concept both groups called Pop.Up and unveiled recently at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show.

The idea was to create a single vehicle that could easily transition to service both land and air to take people to their destinations the best possible way. The Pop.Up is a fully electric vehicle that its designers hope would relieve traffic congestion while reducing carbon emissions in cities of the future.

The Pop-Up is part self-driving car and part drone-type flying machine capable of vertical take-off and landing. The concept is not far from something taken out of a science fiction movie, aimed at being used as a mobility service.

Airbus bills their creation as the first modular, fully electric, zero emission concept vehicle system designed to relieve traffic congestion in crowded megacities, Popular Mechanics reported. The Pop.Up in itself is composed of three major components.

A pod or passenger capsule can be attached to two electric powered modules, one for ground (wheels module) and one for air (drone module). According to an Airbus press release, the company is also not discounting the possibility of having the passenger pod/capsule of the Pop.Up to be transported via train or hyperloop-like means, if ever an opportunity to do so presents itself.

Much like any concept, many things must be worked out. Since the Pop.Up is proposed to be fully autonomous, the AI platform should be so developed that it can survey routes and make split second decisions to find the fastest and easiest way to get from point A to point B.

The concept is targeted to be implemented as a door-to-door transportation service. A user selects a destination from an app, much like done now with Uber. The system would then calculate the best way to ferry the person to the destination whether by land, air or a combination of both.

According to The Sun, the app would then suggest the best transport solution depending on which time of the day the service is booked, the traffic situation, ridesharing demands and the cost of the ride.

It would be fascinating if any of these types of self-driving concepts makes it to commercial use. Pop.Up for one is a fantastic idea. Last year, Airbus has another concept it calls Vahana that Uber is looking into as a possibility for a flying taxi service. However, the concept of Pop.Up has the potential to cover land, track, and air.

Moreover, there are still real-world hurdles that must be overcome even if companies like Airbus and Italdesign can create consumer-grade units of the Pop.Up. Personal apprehension is another matter to look into, considering people are still apprehensive giving full control of their autonomous vehicles to an AI, what more if there is flight involved.

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