Fly Or Drive? Audi Unveils AI-Controlled Flying Smart-Car

Considerable improvements in battery technologies and technological advances in manned electric flight have spurred established automakers to begin examining the feasibility of flying automobiles, as both Audi and Porsche have mentioned their plans to develop flying cars to avoid congested highways.

During the 87th Geneva International Motor Show, Audi and Airbus partnered with Italdesign to premiere Pop.Up Next, the first modular, fully electric, zero-emission concept vehicle system designed to alleviate traffic congestion in large populated areas.

Pop.Up Next is a modular system for multi-modal transportation that can travel on roadways and across the skies.

Audi, Airbus, and Italdesign developed the unmanned drone system that attaches itself to an electric vehicle – turning it into a flying passenger aircraft, as a joint reflection on how to address mobility challenges of large cities.

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 Next consists of a three layers concept:

  • an Artificial Intelligence platform that, based on its user knowledge, manages the travel complexity offering alternative usage scenarios and assuring a seamless travel experience;

  • 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;

  • – an interface module that dialogues with users in an entirely virtual environment.

The vehicle is a two-seat pod that can quickly snap into a chassis with four wheels and autonomous driving technology for roadway travel, or easily converts to a quadcopter drone for flying. While Audi has yet to release details on speed, altitude or range, the overall progress of flying cars seems to be a reality in the not too distant future.

Dr. Bernd Martens, Audi board member and president of Italdesign, said in a statement: “Creativity is needed where new mobility concepts for cities and people’s diverse needs are concerned. Italdesign is an incubator for innovative technologies and radical prototyping.”

“Pop.Up Next is an ambitious vision that could permanently change our urban life in the future,” his statement added.

Here are a few illustrations of the vehicle concept displayed at the Geneva Auto Show:

Jörg Astalosch, CEO of Italdesign, said: “Various players will define the rules of urban mobility in the future. We are proud to collaborate with Airbus, the leading company in the aerospace industry, to investigate solutions for future mobility.”

Here is how Italdesign’s Official YouTube channel describes the flying car:

Pop.Up Next reflects the philosophy driving Italdesign’s 50th anniversary celebrations, anticipating the challenges that the next fifty years will bring. It represents a vision of the potential offered by future technologies, the new concept of transportation and the new solutions for resolving the problems linked to city planning and traffic in large urban centres that are increasingly becoming one of the priority aspects for safeguarding our planet. Next is evidence of the success achieved by Pop.Up over the past year amongst the main players in the transportation world, the municipalities and institutions worldwide.

Earlier this week, Porsche R&D chief Michael Steiner told Reuters at the Geneva show that his team of researchers are in the process of developing flying taxis for urban use. Interesting to note, Audi and Porsche, are both owned by the Volkswagen Group, which it seems, the European automobile manufacturer is pushing their brands into the flying car space.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Boeing and Uber are developing a flying taxi which could be zipping around the skies of America within the next ten years.

That is according to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg, who said, “it [flying taxis] will happen faster than any of us understand,” in a Bloomberg interview.

According to the latest research by Deloitte, more than a dozen drone and flying automobile manufacturers have already passed conceptualization/design phase, and a majority of the manufacturers are currently exiting the prototype stage into the testing phase, with most manufactures targeting launch/delivery by 2020.

“If safety and regulatory hurdles are cleared, passenger drones are expected to get wings by 2018–2020, and traditional flying cars by 2020–2022, while revolutionary vehicles could be a reality only by 2025,” Deloitte reported.  


any_mouse Pol Pot Mon, 03/12/2018 - 04:58 Permalink

Alleviating urban congestion. How so?

By moving some of the traffic a short distance above ground level?

Interesting. I wondered why the Star Ship Enterprise prop was in the display.

When it flies, it leaves the ground vehicle apparatus on the ground.

When it gets somewhere it needs another set of wheels.

Private ownership is out of the question, except for those who own almost everything.

There will be annual membership fees based on projected annual usage and priority. Then pay per time and distance.

Much like the corporate jet business model.

There will never be a VolksLuftWagen.

In reply to by Pol Pot

gregga777 Pool Shark Mon, 03/12/2018 - 03:35 Permalink

Audi has obviously not studied the US Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) or the European Joint Aviation Regulations (JARs). I'm just laughing my ass off at their naïveté regarding the engineering required to comply with the FARs/JARs. For one, passenger carrying aircraft are required to have a (human) pilot. 

In reply to by Pool Shark

effendi gregga777 Mon, 03/12/2018 - 04:37 Permalink

That regulation will be easily scrapped. The bigger problem is how do you ensure 100,000 flying cars in the air at peak hour don't crash into each other, aerial fender benders will have serious consequences and with turbulence and wind shear these light aircraft/cars will bump each other no matter how much they incorporate AI.

In reply to by gregga777

any_mouse effendi Mon, 03/12/2018 - 05:13 Permalink

Add DOT and NHTSA. DHS? Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms Explosives and Flying Cars? BATFEFC

And the American BAR Association and American Insurance Association.

Congress, to pass the bill written by the lobbyi$t$ that provide the be$t partie$ and gift$.

National Aviation Safe Car Act Regulation. NASCAR.

In reply to by effendi

MusicIsYou Mon, 03/12/2018 - 03:02 Permalink

So tell me something, how is America liking their Soy boys?  Yep that's what happens to a society that just wants to have fun, because girls just want to have fun. And the reason you just constantly want to have fun is because you're constantly turning around and looking backwards.

Haha the U.S isn't getting turned into Sodom, you've been Sodom for decades.

Youri Carma Mon, 03/12/2018 - 03:13 Permalink


ISRO second satellite to the moon this year, will be called Chandrayaan-2
Mar 11, 2018 WION

ISRO is all set to launch a second satellite mission to the moon this year. It will be called Chandrayaan-2. The satellite will include a lander and a rover, which will send the data that will be use able useful to analyze the lunar soil. 

MusicIsYou Mon, 03/12/2018 - 03:16 Permalink

So then who do you figure will need to be flying those cars around after people's minds stop functioning correctly? Most people would be more likely to go scurrying into the woods than to keep flying cars.

Automatic Choke Mon, 03/12/2018 - 03:27 Permalink

most folks on the road can't drive worth shit in way they can pilot an aircraft in 3D.

self driving algorithms suck, the hype is exceeding reality by at least a decade.

flying cars in congested areas - they are targeting congestion relief, right? - will lead to mid-air oopsies, and collateral damage wherever the debris falls.

oh yeah, this is a great idea.

how do i short this?

Fed-up with be… Mon, 03/12/2018 - 03:29 Permalink

Aren't they "leap-frogging?"   What I mean is that we JUST started with Auto-driving Taxis in we move right into flight?


AND, the big question:  WHY ARE WE NOT WORKING ON MASS TRANSIT alternatives?   In America, we basically cannot get from point A to B by bus, train or even planes!   I live in a rural area in America, and I must rent cars to get to airports because I simply cannot get around any other way.

AND NOW, we are talking BILLIONS going into AIR-VEHICLES that self-drive.  Christ, what a weird world we are living in.


In the meantime, we are WORKING TO KILL as many terrorists as possible, spending every available future DOLLAR on the Military.  What a fucking strange fucked up thing all of this is.

baldknobber Fed-up with be… Mon, 03/12/2018 - 08:53 Permalink

You sound like one of those, Oh I have to live in the country for the quiet and beauty, but Damn It why is there no subway and do you know how far Ihave to drive to get a decent latte mocha kappa sigma beta???  And another thing, these heathens let their cows walk across the road and my wife has to drive her new Range Rover through their mud and shit, deplorable I tell you

In reply to by Fed-up with be…

Hope Copy Mon, 03/12/2018 - 04:04 Permalink

FAA regulations have always stopped these ideas from fruition.  Make note that the cheapest helicopters are over $400K new and that in its self will cold cock this manic project..  The German government should make Audi pay tax on the money spent developing this toy that is unmarketable now and in the foreseeable future, as  a means to stop this type of tax evasion.