Autonomous Driving—and Flying

The Audi/Italdesign/Airbus Pop.Up Next is a fully electric urban transport vehicle, whether in the sky or on the ground.

Audi, Italdesign and Airbus—yes, as in the company that makes airliners—are continuing the collaborative development that was debuted at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, a two-seat car that is transformed into a vertical take-off and landing aircraft. They debuted the next iteration of the project at this year’s Geneva salon.

Pop.Up Next is described by Dr. Bernd Martens, Audi Board Member for Procurement and President of Italdesign, as “an ambitious vision that could permanently change our urban life in the future.”

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There are three primary elements to the vehicle: the air module, the ground module and the capsule.

The capsule is what the two occupants ride in. It is 104.2 inches long, 55.7 inches high and 60.6 inches wide. It has a curb weight of 440.9 pounds.

According to Italdesign, they assiduously worked on the human-machine interface (HMI) for the capsule, which is based on a 49-inch touchscreen with eye-tracking and face recognition capabilities. They also addressed issues like mass reduction. One way they did this was to create new seats that are based on an aluminum structure that uses mesh to both secure the passengers and provide comfort. 

The air module, which docks to the top of the capsule with a titanium structure with three coupling points and central safety fixing and extendible pins, measures 173.3 inches wide, 33.3 inches high and 196.8 inches wide. There are four rotors, each with a diameter of 70 inches. The air module has eight electric motors that provide a total power of 160 kW. The total battery energy capacity is 70 kWh. Charging can be performed in 15 minutes. The range without payload is 31 miles. The top speed is 74.5 mph. Airbus has been further developing both the air dynamic design of the air module as well as improving the efficiency of the rotor ducts.

The ground module is 122.6 inches long, 26.8 inches high and 72.7 and 74.8 inches wide, front to rear. It weighs 440.9 pounds. The ground module is electrically powered. The total power is 60 kW, and the total battery energy capacity is 15 kWh. The charging time is 15 minutes. The range is 80.7 miles and the top speed is 62 mph.

Pop.Up Next is one of the vehicles that falls under the category of  “Urban Air Mobility.”