Skip to main content

Airbus took the wraps off its futuristic flying car, and it’s pretty insane

If you rolled your eyes and uttered a cynical “yeah, right” last year when you read about Airbus’s plan for a futuristic flying car, then you’ll be surprised at what showed up at the Geneva Motor Show this week. The aerospace giant unveiled a wickedly cool design for its ambitious “Pop.Up” transportation system, an autonomous concept comprising three separate modules.

Developed in partnership with design and engineering firm Italdesign, the modules include a pod for two passengers, a set of wheels to which the pod connects, and — here’s the really awesome part — a giant autonomous quadcopter that carries the pod between different sets of wheels.

Lifted into the air by a giant drone

It works like this: Say you’re at home and you need to head across town for an appointment. First, you summon a vehicle via the system’s app. Within minutes, the self-driving vehicle arrives  at your door. You climb inside and it takes you toward the city. But instead of heading into busy traffic, the pod parks before being lifted into the air by a giant drone that carries you over the city to another set of wheels located on quieter roads. After setting you safely down, the pod drives you off to your final destination while the drone whizzes off to assist another user. What do you mean, “yeah, right”?

As you can guess, you wouldn’t own any of the modules. Instead, this is more like a futuristic ridesharing service where multiple vehicles are shared across a city by numerous users. Hang on a minute, isn’t Uber also looking at the same kind of idea?

Airbus says the technology would also incorporate an AI platform to determine the best travel routes according to user habits and current traffic data.

“The urban sky is under-utilized”

In a video announcing the zero-emission system, Mathias Thomson, general manager of Airbus Urban Air Mobility, says Pop.Up “allows passengers a seamless and faster way of getting from A to B using the city sky … it’s a partnership between the airspace and the automotive sector, two powerful sectors that come together to develop new technology, new concepts for the future of smart cities.”

Thomson continues: “Right now, the urban sky is under-utilized and that’s exactly the proposition — the grid-like layout of road doesn’t actually do it for us. We think that by combining air and ground we’ll get a much better use of the space that we have in our cities.”

The vehicle in Geneva sure looks impressive, and though Airbus isn’t quite ready to hit the “on” switch on any of the electric motors that power the technology, it says it aims to fully demonstrate the equipment by the end of this year.

Airbus CEO Tom Enders is backing this astonishing project all the way, telling an audience at a conference in 2016: “One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground. We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously. With flying, you don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads.”

Airbus says that while for now the project is a concept, it wants to have a ready-for-service design in place within 7 to 10 years. Of course, if it does manage to reach its goal in such a short space of time, there’ll be the small matter of aviation regulators to deal with. But the fact that Airbus is pushing ahead with the idea shows it’s serious about developing solutions for pressing problems, hopefully changing our minds from “yeah right” to “I can’t believe they’ve gone and done it.”

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer
woman-in-bed-wearing-twilight-apollo-on-ankle

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more
The 11 best Father’s Day deals that you can get for Sunday
Data from a workout showing on the screen of the Apple Watch Series 8.

Father's Day is fast approaching and there's still time to buy your beloved Dad a sweet new device to show him how much you love him. That's why we've rounded up the ten best Father's Day tech deals going on right now. There's something for most budgets here, including if you're able to spend a lot on your loved one. Read on while we take you through the highlights and remember to order fast so you don't miss out on the big day.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 -- $200, was $230

While it's the Plus version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 that features in our look at the best tablets, the standard variety is still worth checking out. Saving your Dad the need to dig out their laptop or squint at a small phone screen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 offers a large 10.5-inch LCD display and all the useful features you would expect. 128GB of storage means plenty of room for all your Dad's favorite apps as well as games too. A long-lasting battery and fast charging save him the need for a power source too often too.

Read more