Airbus took the world by surprise when it unveiled its ambitious autonomous flying car concept, which will run on the road and float in the air when needed, at the Geneva Auto Show. Pop.Up — the name given to this flying car — seems to be a passenger compartment in the shape of a pod.

Airbus
Image Source: Italdesign Official/YouTube (screenshot)

Airbus to give both air and road travel

The concept is a capsule with a wheel base that can be attached and detached. Both the wheel base and rotors are electric and can be deployed when the passenger needs them. However, the car is not expected to be released anytime soon, as it is still in the concept phase.

Airbus feels that the driver can just pull off from the wheel base and fly in the air when traffic is quite bad. According to the company, it can also be used for the Hyperloop system for super fast transport. Airbus’ Pop.Up also uses artificial intelligence (AI) and an “interface module” to allow passengers to interact with the system.

Passengers could book a ride on Airbus’ Pop.Up through a smartphone app, and the system will suggest air travel or ground travel, depending on factors such as traffic, prices and route. Once the distance is traveled, the ground or air pods will go to recharge stations before being sent off for a new set of customers.

Mathias Thomsen, general manager for the Urban Air Mobility segment at Airbus, said, “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.”

Many more concepts in the works

Airbus is, however, not alone in envisioning a future around flying cars. Larry Page’s startup Zee Aero is increasing its fleet of unusual aircraft in a bid to produce flying cars that will change the face of transportation. In January, Zee Aero registered two new aircraft which use electric engines according to the registrations, notes BI.

Zee Aero subsidiary Kitty Hawk is also working on multiple flying car designs. In January, it registered a four-seater Cessna 172 Skyhawk plane. Together, Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk have filed at least a dozen aircraft designs with the FAA, with the earliest filing dated back to 2014, notes BI.

Various aircraft types that have been registered are electric gliders, fixed wing designs and rotorcraft that are both traditional and commercial. Zee Aero has yet to acknowledge or showcase the technology.