Italdesign and Airbus unveil PopUp
, a trailblazing modular ground and air passenger concept vehicle system

  • Aerospace and automotive industries unite to draw up a shared vision for seamless, multimodal, fully electric urban mobility
  • Urban transportation is moving into the third dimension, exploring city skies to contribute to relieving congested roads and reducing emissions
  • The modular concept includes a capsule that connects to either a ground or air module, and can be integrated into other means of transportation
  • An Artificial Intelligence platform will manage the trips offering passengers multiple optimized choices of transport combinations to match their travel preferences
  • Passengers will interact with the multimodal transportation system through a simple app
  • Passengers can relax and enjoy their journey thanks to a self piloted system for both ground and air transportation

During the 87th Geneva International Motor Show, Italdesign and Airbus world premiered 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: –

  1. an Artificial Intelligence platform that, based on its user knowledge, manages the travel complexity offering alternative usage scenarios and assuring a seamless travel experience
  2. 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
  3. 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 (VTOL) 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.

Aerospace leader Airbus is harnessing its expertise to actively develop a number of radical concepts that will contribute to relieving urban congestion. “Adding the third dimension to seamless multi-modal transportation networks will without a doubt improve the way we live and how we get from A to B,” said Mathias Thomsen, General Manager for Urban Air Mobility at Airbus, on the occasion of the unveil. “Successfully designing and implementing solutions that will work both in the air and on the ground requires a joint reflection on the part of both aerospace and automotive sectors, alongside collaboration with local government bodies for infrastructure and regulatory frameworks. Italdesign, with its long track record of exceptional vehicle design was an exciting partner for Airbus for this unique concept project.”

“Italdesign is a service company, created to provide services and mobility solutions to interested parties worldwide. It is deeply rooted in our DNA to search for future state-of-the-art solutions,” said Italdesign CEO Jörg Astalosch. “Today, automobiles are part of a much wider eco-system: if you want to design the urban vehicle of the future, the traditional car cannot alone be the solution for megacities, you also have to think about sustainable and intelligent infrastructure, apps, integration, power systems, urban planning, social aspects, and so on. In the next years ground transportation will move to the next level and from being shared, connected and autonomous it will also go multimodal and moving into the third dimension” continued Astalosch. “We found in Airbus, the leader in aerospace, the perfect partner who shares this modern vision for the future of megacities to develop a sustainable multi-modal vision of megacity transportation,” he concluded.

About Italdesign

Italdesign is a service company providing design, engineering and production for the transportation industry, through to final testing and type-approval and support into Start of Production and the design of complete business models. Italdesign is based in Moncalieri and today has premises of more than 50.000 sq.m., a full-scale design and engineering campus and a cutting edge development and prototyping centre. It has 1000 employees in Italy, Spain and abroad. Italdesign offers its services to all interested parties worldwide. In 2017 Italdesign launched as additional business unit to design, develop and produce ultra-limited vehicles for all automotive constructors worldwide. In 2016 and 2017, Italdesign was awarded Top Employer certification in Italy. More information on: www.italdesign.it

About Airbus

Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2016, it generated revenues of € 67 billion and employed a workforce of around 134,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as Europe’s number one space enterprise and the world’s second largest space business. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.


POP.UP TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION

Air Module

 Dimensions
 Length  4403 mm
 Height  847 mm
 Width  5000 mm
 Rotors  4 + 4
 Propeller diameter 1780 mm
 Powertrain
 Powertrain Electric
 Motors 8
 Total Power 136 kW
 Motor Power (each motor) 17 kW
 Range (without payload) 100 km
 Charging time 15 minutes
 Empty weight ratio (EW/GW) 43.90 %
 Total battery (ies) energy/capacity 70.0 kWh
 Disc loading 30.4 kg/m2
 Top speed 150 m/s
 Passenger carrying capacity 2
 Vehicle max gross weight 600 kg
 Top speed ( stand alone module) 100 km/h

Ground Module

 Dimensions
 Length 3115 mm
 Height 681 mm
 Width (front/rear) 1848/1900 mm
 Front overhang 581 mm
 Rear overhang 534 mm
 Powertrain
 Powertrain Electric
 Motorwheels 2 (rear)
 Total Power 60 kW
 Range 130 km
 Charging time 15 minutes
  Total battery (ies) energy/capacity 15.0 kWh

Capsule

 Dimensions
 Length 2647 mm
 Height 1415 mm
 Width 1540 mm
 Number of passengers 2
 Kerb weight 200 kg
For High Resolution Images Click Here.
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Uber Hires Veteran NASA Engineer to Develop Flying Cars

uber-elevate

In 2010, an advanced aircraft engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center named Mark Moore published a white paper outlining the feasibility of electric aircrafts that could take off and land like helicopters but were smaller and quieter. The vehicles would be capable of providing a speedy alternative to the dreary morning commute.

Moore’s research into so-called VTOL — short for vertical takeoff and landing, or more colloquially, flying cars — inspired at least one billionaire technologist. After reading the white paper, Google co-founder Larry Page secretly started and financed two Silicon Valley startups, Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk, to develop the technology, Bloomberg Businessweek reported last summer.

Now Moore is leaving the confines of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he has spent the last 30 years, to join one of Google’s rivals: Uber Technologies Inc. Moore is taking on a new role as director of engineering for aviation at the ride-hailing company, working on a flying car initiative known as Uber Elevate. “I can’t think of another company in a stronger position to be the leader for this new ecosystem and make the urban electric VTOL market real,” he says.

Radical Vision for Airborne Commutes

Uber isn’t constructing a flying car yet. In its own white paper published last October, the company laid out a radical vision for airborne commutes and identified technical challenges it said it wanted to help the nascent industry solve, like noise pollution, vehicle efficiency and limited battery life. Moore consulted on the paper and was impressed by the company’s vision and potential impact.

Moore acknowledged that many obstacles stand in the way, and they’re not only technical. He says each flying car company would need to independently negotiate with suppliers to get prices down, and lobby regulators to certify aircrafts and relax air-traffic restrictions. But he says Uber, with its 55 million active riders, can uniquely demonstrate that there could be a massive, profitable and safe market. “If you don’t have a business case that makes economic sense, than all of this is just a wild tech game and not really a wise investment,” Moore says.

Uber’s vision is a seductive one, particularly for sci-fi fans. The company envisions people taking conventional Ubers from their homes to nearby “vertiports” that dot residential neighborhoods. Then they would zoom up into the air and across town to the vertiport closest to their offices. (“We don’t need stinking bridges!” says Moore.) These air taxis will only need ranges of between 50 to 100 miles, and Moore thinks that they can be at least partially recharged while passengers are boarding or exiting the aircraft. He also predicts we’ll see several well-engineered flying cars in the next one to three years and that there will be human pilots, at least managing the onboard computers, for the foreseeable future.

His move to Uber is a risky one. Moore says he’s leaving NASA one year before he’s eligible for retirement and walking away from a significant percentage of his pension and free health care for life “to be in the right place at the right time to make this market real.” (Though it’s probably safe to say that Uber, with some $11 billion on its balance sheet, is making it worth his while.) Moore seems to be disillusioned with NASA, saying the agency is leaving promising new aviation markets to the private industry. “It’s the federal government who is best positioned to overcome extremely high levels of risks,” he says.

While NASA is larded with layers of bureaucracy and management, Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick has been closely involved in hatching his company’s flying car plans, Moore says. That is, when he’s not distracted with his own political crises, such as his role on President Donald Trump’s advisory council, which he relinquished last week after criticism from customers, drivers and employees.

Kalanick’s bet on Uber Elevate is another indication that while Silicon Valley seems on the surface to be consumed with politics and protests these days, the march into the future continues apace.

By Brad Stone via Industry Week

Uber Elevate PDF