Airbus shows off plans for driverless flying car

The company is planning to test prototype single-seater flying taxis before the end of the year

'Adding the third dimension to seamless multi-modal transportation networks will without a doubt improve the way we live'

Airbus and Italdesign have unveiled Pop.Up, a modular autonomous flying car concept that can operate on the ground and in the air. 

It comprises a capsule that can be attached to and detached from a wheeled base or drone-like rotors, both of which are electric, depending on the passenger’s needs.

Airbus believes it could also be used with hyperloop systems in the future, for super-fast transport.

Pop.Up is just a concept, but Airbus envisages that the vehicles would form part of a wider ride-hailing system, much like Uber.

Passengers would be able to book a Pop.Up through a smartphone app, with the system itself suggesting whether ground or air travel would be best, depending on route, traffic and prices.

After completing a journey, the air and ground modules would automatically make their way to recharge stations, before being dispatched to a new set of customers.

“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, the general manager for Urban Air Mobility at Airbus. 

“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.”

Airbus adds that the vehicle also uses artificial intelligence and an “interface module” passengers can interact with.

The company is planning to test prototype single-seater flying taxis before the end of the year, ahead of a wider rollout in 2021.

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