Ready to fly, drive and take the train to work? Airbus and Italdesign have taken the wraps off an incredible pod design that combines all three into the last vehicle you could ever need. The Pop.up system is a concept that combines artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and Hyperloop into a futuristic machine designed to traverse cities at speed.
“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, general manager for urban air mobility at Airbus, at the vehicle’s world premiere during the 87th Geneva International Motor Show on Tuesday.
At its core, the vehicle consists of a monocoque carbon-fiber pod with two seats, measuring 8.5 feet by 4.9 feet, standing 4.6 feet tall. The pod couples on the base with a four-wheel ground module for driving, but in certain situations, an air module will connect to the roof. The module, measuring 16.4 feet by 14.4 feet, has eight counter-rotating rotors that can propel it through the air at around 60 miles per hour. It can also drive at 60 miles per hour. Both the air module and the ground module take about 15 minutes to charge — the ground module has an 80-mile range, and the air module can go 60, without a payload. Airbus doesn’t state how far the air module can travel with passengers on board.
Passengers will use an app to call a ride, the system will choose the best module for the occasion, and the whole pod will work out the best way to drive itself. Artificial intelligence is used to make the experience as seamless as possible, for example by choosing the air module to avoid traffic congestion in major cities. An augmented reality overlay provides details about sights throughout the city, allowing users to give their opinion on city proposals and accept event invites. At the end of the trip, the components all return themselves to a charging station for the next user.
The modular system allows for integration with other forms of publicly-available transit, with Airbus naming Hyperloop as one example. Elon Musk’s design for a 700 mile per hour vacuum-sealed train has captured the imaginations of city and vehicle designers, and Pop.Up’s creators are no exception.
“[The] passenger pod concept envisaged by Hyperloop could intuitively integrate well with Pop.Up,” an Airbus spokesperson tells Inverse. “For instance, the last mile to and from Hyperloop stations could be transported with the Pop.Up air module.”
It’s not the first company to explore this idea. Hyperloop One, a company aiming to bring the train system to reality, has also described a system where self-driving cars can link up with the network, drive into the nearest Hyperloop portal and cut transit times dramatically. An Airbus spokesperson tells Inverse that the company does not yet have any direct contact with Hyperloop firms, but that it is open to exploring opportunities.
As for when you’ll be able to try one of these, Airbus has no current plans to bring the vehicle to market, but believes a vehicle similar to the concept could debut somewhere in the 2024 to 2027 range.
Watch the hypothetical pod in action here: