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Geneva show: Audi improves mobility concept

Flying high: The Pop.Up Next adds a few new elements to the original Pop.Up from last year’s Geneva show, including a 49.0-inch screen.

Audi joins Italdesign and Airbus-developed urban mobility solution


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7 Mar 2018

ITALDESIGN and Airbus have further refined their jointly developed “multi-modal, fully electric urban mobility” solution that was unveiled at last year’s Geneva motor show, and this time German car-maker Audi has helped out by providing its know-how on electric-vehicle and autonomous technologies.

Detailed at the Geneva motor show overnight, a year after the original debuted, the ground and air concept, dubbed Pop.Up Next, has been designed to address the issues relating to the expected increase in congestion in mega-cities over the next 10 to 15 years.

In updating the concept, Italdesign and Airbus engineers worked on weight reduction, aerodynamics and on-board electronics.

Italdesign has also worked on improving the electric modular platform, and the company says it is working closely with Audi to integrate the autonomous drive system.

Further work to improve the concept over the original happened on-board, with engineers focusing on the HMI (human machine interface) system that uses facial recognition and eye-tracking technology. The cabin also features a massive 49.0-inch screen.

To reduce overall weight, the seats were completely redesigned using aerospace materials including lightweight mesh and aluminium.

More work was done to improve the coupling system that connects the passenger capsule with the air and ground modules.

To use Pop.Up Next, users plan their journey and book their trip via an app. An artificial intelligence platform suggests the best transport solution based on congestion, traffic, user knowledge, cost and ride-sharing demands, and then this will connect with either the ground or air module, or other forms of transport.

The main element of the concept is a monocoque cabon-fibre passenger capsule measuring 2600mm long, 1400mm high and 1500mm wide that can be coupled with both the air and ground modules.

For journeys around mega-cities, the capsule disconnects from the battery-powered, carbon-fibre ground module and is then carried by a 5000mm by 4400mm air module that is propelled by eight counter-rotating rotors.

This is when Pop.Up becomes an “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 the user reaches their destination, the ground and air modules with the passenger capsule autonomously head back to a dedicated charging station to wait for their next job.

The air module is a vertical take-off and landing (VOTL) air vehicle and the capsule can accommodate two occupants.

A press release from the companies says the Pop.Up could also integrate with other modes of public transport, such as trains or hyperloops.

The 600kg air module uses eight 20kW motors with a total output of 160kW, ensuring a travelling range of 50km without anyone on board, a charging time of 15 minutes and a top speed of 120km/h.

The electric-powered ground module has a 15kWh battery with a total power output of 60kW, a range of 130km, a top speed of 100km/h and a 15-minute charging time.

Italdesign CEO Joerg Astalosch said Audi was the perfect partner to help improve the Pop.Up concept.

“Last year Pop.Up marked a new – and as we believe highly significant – chapter in the transportation sector by bringing together two worlds, road mobility and air transport, which had never previously met,” he said.

“The close cooperation with the premium brand Audi confirms that the project could become the standard bearer for future mobility, based on new technologies, sustainability, digitalisation and urbanisation all sectors in which Audi is a leading company.

“These are also the pillars that underpin Audi’s strategy and are fully embodied in Pop.Up Next. So we are proud having been asked to show this idea as Audi, engineered by Italdesign, following our Human Centred Design and Engineering approach.”

Audi board member for procurement and president of Italdesign, Bernd Martens said: “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.”

Italdesign also ripped the covers off the drop-top version of its Zerouno sportscar that it launched at last year’s Geneva show, dubbed the Zerouno Duerta.

The new version features a removable carbon hard-top and packs the same performance, including a 320km/h top speed, from the naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 found in the coupe.

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