At this year’s Geneva Motor Show, Italdesign and Airbus unveiled Pop.Up, the first modular, fully electric, zero emission concept vehicle system designed to relieve traffic congestion in crowded megacities. Pop.Up envisages a modular system for multi-modal transportation that makes full use of both ground and airspace.
The feasible concept is the result of Italdesign and Airbus’ joint reflection on how to address the mobility challenges of megacities achievable for a majority, which has become one of the most pressing issues for commuters in megacities worldwide. With traffic congestion projected to hugely increase by 2030, the companies decided to combine their engineering expertise to tackle how to best achieve a sustainable, modular and multimodal urban mobility system – giving rise to the Pop.Up concept.
Pop.Up System consists of a three layers concept: an Artificial Intelligence platform that, based on its user knowledge, manages the travel complexity offering alternative usage scenarios and assuring a seamless travel experience; a vehicle shaped as a passenger capsule designed to be coupled with two different and independent electric propelled modules (the ground module and the air module). Other public means of transportation (e.g. trains or hyperloops) could also integrate the Pop.Up capsule; an interface module that dialogues with users in a fully virtual environment.
The Pop.Up system aims to give time back to commuters through a flexible, shared and adaptable new way of moving within cities introducing a new user-focused transportation system concept. The Pop.Up vehicle combines the flexibility of a small two seater ground vehicle with the freedom and speed of a vertical take-off and landing air vehicle, thus bridging the automotive and aerospace domains.
Pop.Up’s modus operandi is simple: passengers plan their journey and book their trip via an easy-to-use app. The system automatically suggests the best transport solution – according to user knowledge, timing, traffic congestion, costs, ridesharing demands – joining either the air or ground module or other means of transportation to the passenger capsule, and following passengers’ preferences and needs.
At the heart of the concept is a capsule: designed to accommodate passengers. This high-tech, monocoque carbon-fibre cocoon measures 2.6 metres long, 1.4 metres high, and 1.5 metres wide. The capsule transforms itself into a city car by simply coupling to the ground module, which features a carbon-fibre chassis and is battery powered.
For megacity journeys with high congested traffic, the capsule disconnects from the ground module and is carried by a 5 by 4.4 metre air module propelled by eight counter-rotating rotors. In this configuration, Pop.Up becomes a urban self-piloted air vehicle, taking advantage of the third dimension to get from A to B efficiently whilst avoiding traffic congestion on the ground.
Once passengers reach their destination, the air and ground modules with the capsule autonomously return to dedicated recharge stations to wait for their next customers.
Thanks to the possibility of combining the capsule also with other means of public transportation, the Pop.Up offers a seamless travel experience. The user can stay for the entire journey in the same capsule without worrying about switching between different travel modes and enjoy the entire commute time, with real time interaction between the capsule and the surrounding urban environment and communities.