Moncalieri, Italy - We’ve all seen future-tech renderings of electrically-powered passenger carrying drones, but this one from Audi-owned Italdesign adds a whole new twist to the concept.

It’s modular - the cabin can be slung under a four-rotor drone, and then transferred to a self-driving chassis so that you can transfer from air-taxi to road transport without even undoing your seatbelt!

And this is not pie in the sky: it’s being supported by parent company Audi with know-how on battery technology and automation, and by Airbus’ drone division with aircraft technology.

The ‘Pop.Up Next’ concept for horizontal and vertical mobility is planned around an ultralight two-seater cabin that can be attached to either a car module or a flight module; it could in the not-too-distant future transport people in cities quickly and conveniently on the road and in the air, at the same time solving traffic problems.

Italdesign head Jörg Astalosch sees Pop.Up Next as a flexible on-demand concept that could open up mobility in the third dimension to people in cities, the logical next step from the original Pop.Up air taxi, revealed at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. It’s significantly lighter than its predecessor, and the interior has been redesigned.

And since it’s intended to be fully autonomous, there are no physical controls; instead the front of the cabin is almost completely taken up by a 125cm colour touch screen, and all interaction between human and machine is by speech and face recognition, eye-tracking and touch gestures.

Astalosch said: “Various players will define the rules of urban mobility in the future - which is why we are working with Airbus.”

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Audi board member for procurement and president of Italdesign Dr Bernd Martens agreed: “Creativity is needed where new mobility concepts are concerned, and Italdesign is an incubator for innovative technologies and radical prototyping.

“Pop.Up Next is ambitious - but it’s a vision that could permanently change our urban life in the future.”

IOL Motoring