Airbus is bringing a whole new meaning to 'fly-drive' with its radical Pop.Up concept: an electric car with a detachable passenger pod which can be airlifted by a supersized drone to fly over congested traffic.
Unveiled overnight at the Geneva International Motor show, the Pop.Up was created with ItalDesign to be a 'multi-model' transport system for the modern megacity.
Here's how it work work.
You hit the Pop.Up app on your smartphone to book a commute in a little self-driving two-seater electric vehicle.
It doesn't boast a lot of range – you can get 100km on a single charge, but that's enough for inner-city running around.
Except that an unexpected traffic jam means there won't be much running around this morning. Rather than sit in the queue, you pull across to some convenient parking spot, hit an app on your smartphone and summon an autonomous self-powered drone.
The drone zooms in and clamps itself onto the top of your EV, which then splits into two parts: the passenger module (containing you) and the chassis (with the wheels, drivetrain and batteries).
The carbon-fibre passenger pod – which is 2.5 metres long and 1.4 metres high – is lifted up, up and away by the eight-rotor drone as "an urban self-piloted air vehicle" to fly above the traffic and get you to your original destination.
Airbus hasn't explained exactly what happens to the bottom half of the Pop.Up's EV module, only that it "autonomously returns to dedicated recharge stations to wait for their next customers."
Airbus says an artificial intelligence platform would help manage the whole Pop.Up system, letting passengers optimise that mix of modalities for their trip.
Of course, there's no timetable for when Pop.Up might, well, pop up, but Airbus says this is no flight of fancy.