Airbus + Italdesign Debuts Pop.Up Ground and Air Concept Vehicle System

A modular, fully electric, zero-emission capsule for megacities

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Aviation specialist Airbus and Italian automotive design, styling and prototyping firm Italdesign‘s new Pop.up concept isn’t just a land-to-air vehicle—it’s an entire transportation system reimagined. At the core is a dynamic capsule that can be affixed to drone propellers or fitted into wheels, but what’s really going on here is a traffic-fighting reimagining of how travelers make their way. Inspired by the fact that in 2030 two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities, the organizations took it upon themselves to develop a solution. This multi-modal system is a partnership between the airspace and automotive universes, where the base passenger capsule either self-pilots the skies or traverses hyper loops. All of it, according to the proposal, would be accessible by way of an app.

Airbus claims that something like this system could be a reality is as soon as seven to 10 years—though as it stands there are a few technologies referenced that don’t yet exist, including electric propulsion and sense-and-avoid technology. There are three primary components to the present vision: a carbon-fibre passenger capsule, a battery-powered ground module and an air module with eight counter-rotating rotors. A system detects the quickest means of transport. And if traffic emerges when traveling on the ground, an air module can be deployed. Everything returns autonomously to charging stations. Megacities of 10 million people or more are an unavoidable part of our future—and systems like this might just help us navigate them with space and time kept as a premium.

Lead image by Josh Rubin, all others courtesy of Airbus