The car from futuristic movies has arrived: Audi designs part-car, part-drone vehicle that can lift off from anywhere

A collaboration between car maker Audi and automobile design company Italdesign have spiced up the drab-looking Pop.Up flying taxi conceived by Airbus. Looking like a futuristic car from sci-fi movies, the reworked design is both stylish and practical, according to an article on EnGadget.

The three companies recently presented a life-sized example of Pop.Up Next at the 88th Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland. The redesigned facsimile shows a number of aesthetic features employed in Audi’s latest fleet of cars.

Furthermore, the new design is reported to be much lighter than its predecessor. The weight savings will go a long way to improving the performance and range of the hybrid passenger drone.

“Creativity is needed where new mobility concepts for cities and people’s diverse needs are concerned. Italdesign is an incubator for innovative technologies and radical prototyping,” says Dr. Bernd Martens, who works for both Audi and Italdesign.

“Pop.Up Next is an ambitious vision that could permanently change our urban life in the future,” he adds.

Audi is sharing its expertise on electric battery and driver-less car technologies with Airbus for the Pop.Up project.

“Various players will define the rules of urban mobility in the future.  We are proud to collaborate with Airbus, the leading company in the aerospace industry, to investigate solutions for future mobility,” says Jörg Astalosch, CEO of Italdesign.

Italdesign devises future vehicle concepts for car companies like Audi. In order to accurately predict the way urban mobility will evolve in the future, the company works closely with cities, universities, and numerous stakeholders.

Astalosch describes Pop.Up Next as a responsive way to deliver on-demand mobility in the third dimension to people in cities. (Related: China’s “megadrone” is world’s first autonomous aerial vehicle, carries passengers at 80 mph during test flights.)

Pop.Up Next can equip car or quadcopter parts

Pop.Up Next follows the same design principles as its earlier version. It is an electric and fully automatic vehicle capable of both horizontal and vertical movement.

Most flying car designs try to fit both automobile and aircraft parts into the vehicle. The result compromises overall performance due to weight.

Airbus has gone for something different. The heart of the Pop.Up Next flying taxi is an ultralight pod that comfortably holds two passengers.

This passenger pod can be mounted on a four-wheeled car module, or it can be hooked up to a separate flight module that functions like a large quadcopter drone.

When attached to the car module, it functions like other driver-less cars. If equipped with an airborne module, it can take off and fly over congested roads and streets.

Passengers can interact with their vehicle through a 49-inch touchscreen that has facial and voice recognition features as well as eye tracking capability. When they tell the A.I. where they want to go, the computer will look at the available routes and passenger preferences before picking the appropriate module.

According to another article on EnGadget, Airbus believes Pop.Up vehicles can form the backbone of an on-demand transportation network that can adapt itself according to the current situation. The company believes the passenger pod can eventually be adapted to use high-speed hyperloop tubes.

Transformable flying car is still in the concept stage

For now, Pop.Up Next remains a concept vehicle that gives a glimpse of what fully autonomous transportation might look like in the future. Airbus and Audi have not yet issued concrete announcements about actual production.

The immaturity of its complex technologies is just one of the many barriers faced by Pop.Up Next. There’s also the legal frameworks, the supporting infrastructure, and the business models to be considered before it can enter widespread use.

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