The Airbus Pop.Up, a flying concept car, surprised visitors to the Geneva car show last month. The modular electric vehicle consists of a passenger pod riding on a carbon fiber terrestrial chassis or carried aloft by a flight unit equipped with four pairs of counter-rotating rotors. A control system featuring artificial intelligence will determine the best route, adapting itself to passenger needs.
Pop.Up comes on the heels of the company’s Vahana and CityAirbus projects. Other firms are pursuing similar avenues to avoid the increased road congestion threatening to strangle metropolitan areas. But obstacles remain. For example, regulations governing airspace utilisation will need to be overhauled. On the technical side, battery life and overheating, and avionics accuracy are recognized problems. Then there’s public acceptance. Will people accept the idea of soaring above the crowd in a self-driving vehicle controlled entirely by computer?