Audi and Airbus Team Up for New Pop.UP Flying Car Concept

REUTERS/Denis BalibouseThe "pop.up next" concept by Audi, Airbus, and Italdesign is pictured during the 88th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, March 6, 2018.

Audi teams up with Airbus to give the latter's Pop.Up flying taxi concept a design upgrade.

A year ago at the Geneva Motor Show, Airbus unveiled its bizarre transportation concept that seemed to combine a car, a drone, and a train all-in-one vehicle. Apart from the unique concept, critics thought the idea was half-baked and needed a lot of improvements.

This is why Airbus returned to the show this year with a refreshed design courtesy of the global car manufacturer. The upgraded concept, now named Pop.Up Next, still has similar features to that of its predecessor, only sleeker.

The new concept is a smart-car sized capsule that can accommodate two passengers. Just like the original, Pop.Up Next can function in three ways. It can ride along on a base of wheels like a regular car. When the roads are congested, it can be vertically lifted for air travel with the help of a huge drone module. Lastly, it can be connected with other capsules to form a train-like vehicle.

A 49-inch touch screen, which uses face recognition, eye tracking, and voice recognition, helps the passenger communicate with the vehicle.

The new concept is more in tune of Audi's current design language. The car company also reportedly lent its battery technology and automation know-how for the vehicle's hardware. Apart from the more modern design, the capsule is "significantly" lighter than the original, an important improvement for the drone hybrid.

Italdesign also collaborated with the two companies for the development of the new concept. It said that Pop.Up Next represents the future of transportation, citing its artificial intelligence, travel module, and ground attachment, as well as its user interface that "dialogues with users in a fully virtual environment."

"Pop.Up Next is an ambitious vision that could permanently change our urban life in the future," said Bernd Martens, an Audi board member and president of Italdesign.

There is no assurance that Pop.Up Next will ever make it to production. But in the futuristic world of fully autonomous vehicles, this would be a very competitive model.