Italdesign and Airbus design multimodal Pop.Up
With traffic congestion—especially in megacities—projected to significantly increase in the near future, mobility companies are increasingly bringing their engineering expertise to bear in tackling how to best achieve a sustainable, modular, and multimodal urban mobility system.
At the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show, the unlikely combination of Italdesign and Airbus revealed to the world a collaboration project dubbed Pop.Up, which they claim is the first modular, fully electric, zero emissions concept vehicle system designed to relieve traffic congestion in crowded megacities. The modular system for multimodal transportation makes use of both ground and airspace.
Modular system for multimodal transportation
Beating traffic congestion in a sustainable, modular way with the Pop.Up from Italdesign and Airbus.
The Pop.Up system consists of three major engineered systems. An artificial intelligence platform, based on its acquired knowledge, manages the travel complexity, offers alternative usage scenarios, and ensures a seamless travel experience. The vehicle, or passenger capsule, is designed to be coupled with two different and independent electrically propelled modules for ground or air travel. The partnership says that other public means of transportation, such as trains or hyperloops, could also integrate with the Pop.Up capsule in the future. An interface module dialogues with users in a fully virtual environment.
A TIME SAVER FOR TRAVEL
The new user-focused transportation system concept aims to give time back to commuters through a more flexible, shared, and adaptable way of moving within cities. The Pop.Up vehicle combines the flexibility of a small, two-seat ground vehicle with the freedom with a VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) air vehicle.
Passengers plan their journey and/or book their trip via a mobile app. The system automatically suggests the best transport intermodal travel solution—based on timing, traffic congestion, costs, and ridesharing demands—joining either the air or ground module or other means of transportation to the passenger capsule, depending on passengers’ preferences and needs.
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. Combined with other means of public transportation, the Pop.Up concept could be extended to provide a more comprehensive end-to-end travel experience. A user hypothetically could stay for their entire journey in the same capsule without needing to switch among travel modes.
The Pop.Up concept is an example of how aerospace leader Airbus is actively developing a number of radical concepts that could relieve 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. “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 brought its long track record of ground vehicle design for this auto/aero hybrid project.
“Today, automobiles are part of a much wider eco-system,” said Italdesign CEO Jörg Astalosch. “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.”
The passenger capsule is a high-tech, carbon-fiber monocoque measuring 2647 mm (104.2 in) long, 1415 mm (55.7 in) tall, and 1540 mm (60.6 in) wide, for up to two passengers and 200 kg (440 lb).
For travel on earth, the capsule is coupled to the ground module, a carbon-fiber chassis that is battery powered. In ground mode, the 200-kg module is 3115 mm (122.6 in) long, 681 mm (26.8 in) tall, and the width is 1848 mm (72.8 in) in front and 1900 mm (74.8 in) in back. The electric powertrain for ground travel features two electric motors in the rear for a total power of 60 kW, a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), and a range of 130 km (81 mi). Charging time for the 15 kW·h battery back is 15 min.
For journeys involving high traffic congestion, the capsule disconnects from the ground module and is carried by an air module. In this configuration, Pop.Up becomes a self-piloted air vehicle, taking advantage of the vertical dimension to get from point A to B efficiently, leaving the traffic congestion on the ground. The air module measures 4403 mm (173.3 in) long, 847 mm (33.3 in) tall, and 5000 mm (196.9 in) wide. Its electric powertrain features eight 17-kW motors producing total power of 136 kW and total range of 100 km (60 mi). In air mode, the assembly can transport up to two passengers and 600 kg (1320 lb) at a top speed of 100 km/h. Charging time is 15 min drawing on a battery energy capacity of 70 kW·h. The eight (4+4) counter-rotating rotors each have a 1780-mm (70.1-in) diameter, disc loading of 30.4 kg/m² (6.2 lb/ft²), and tip speed of 150 m/s (490 ft/s).