Geneva Motor Show: Airbus Pop.Up aka Vahana - the first flying electric-car concept

Pop.Up is a fully-electric concept multimodal transport system that could ferry you through roads and if needed, airlift you out of traffic congestion.

autos Updated: Mar 09, 2017 14:33 IST
Gulshankumar Wankar
Gulshankumar Wankar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Geneva Motor Show,Airbus Pop.Up,Airbus Vahana
Pop.Up, a modular ground and air passenger concept vehicle system, is presented by Italdesign and Airbus during the 87th International Motor Show at Palexpo in Geneva on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Stuck in traffic? Look upwards and pray, “O God! Please get me out of here!”

Then God sends his Vahana, lifts you out of the congestion and carries you to your destination by air!

Fancy concept, right? Engineers at Airbus too thought so and designers at Italdesign then said, ‘Why not?’

Enter Pop.Up, a fully-electric concept multimodal transport system that could ferry you through roads and if needed, airlift you out of traffic congestion.

Not kidding! French aircraft major Airbus unveiled a concept of its Pop.Up at the Geneva International Motor Show on Wednesday, which the company claims “makes full use of the urban transportation space” in megacities like New York, London, Paris and Bejing. The company also has Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad on the map.

The Pop.Up consists of three modules: A carbon-fibre capsule that would carry passengers or goods, a battery vehicle running on the ground and an aerial module electrically propelled by eight rotors. It essentially looks like a futuristic electric vehicle on the ground and like a drone-car in the air.

The Pop.Up concept works like this:

■ You choose your destination and book a ride using an app.

■ Based on your preferences, the system gives you the best mode of transport.

■ The passenger capsule becomes an electric car and picks you up.

■ In case of congestion, the capsule disconnects from the car and is lifted by the aerial module, becoming a “self-piloted urban-air vehicle” that delivers you to your destination.

■ As the ride is completed, all components return autonomously to their nearest charging points (like a bus terminal) and await their next ride.

Projects like Vahana, Skyways and CityAirbus are being sketched on the Pop.Up concept.

Vahana, a Sanskrit word for vehicle, is essentially a single-seat electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle by A^3, a small innovation company of Airbus.

The makers of Vahana are actively pursuing Vahana as a self-piloted flying vehicle platform for individual passenger and cargo transport, much like in the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon show Jetsons.

While the concept may sound fancy, the practicality of such an operation remains to be seen.

CityAirbus is another project operating on the concept of a flying bus, more like a public chartered flight.

CityAirbus Demonstration Chief Marius Bebesel says, “While Pop.Up relies on future technologies that are not yet mature enough, such as electric propulsion and sense-and-avoid technology, the basic idea of the vehicle is feasible.”

Another brand associated with Pop.Up is Italdesign, famous for designing Lamborghinis and Alfa Romeos among other marquee cars. The company’s CEO Jörg Astalosch says on the Airbus website, “When we designed the concept, we always had in mind its accessibility to a wide public. The beauty of Pop.Up is that it could be an integral part of cities’ existing public metro or tram transport systems or integrate seamlessly into a future one. For example, the passenger capsule could easily be designed to be compatible with hyperloops.”

The new Italdesign Pop.Up Airbus - an electric car or a drone-car ? (AP)

While Hyperloop is still in its nascent stage, the Pop.Up is also expected to take 7-10 years for realisation.

Meanwhile, Airbus is also keen on subletting their facilities to Amazon and DHL to deliver items. Amazon last year bought 40 Boeing 767 jets for faster product delivery and also delivered a product via drone to the customer 13 minutes after he ordered it.

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First Published: Mar 09, 2017 14:32 IST