The Pop.Up concept is a trailblazing modular ground and air passenger concept vehicle system by Italdesign and Airbus. Picture: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP.

Flying cars are taking off as a 21st century reality rather than just the dream of sci-fi fans and gridlocked motorists.

Now aircraft manufacturer Airbus is boldly claiming its high-tech prototype will be in the air by the end of the year.

With minicab service Uber announcing its plans for flying cars last month – even hiring a Nasa engineer who is a specialist in vertical take-off and landing craft – it seems virtually every tech giant is getting in on the act.

Airbus, however, has raised the bar with its radical self-drive, self-fly Pop.Up design. The electric-powered zero-emissions car can be driven on the road but, alternatively, it can take to the air using four large drone-like rotors which automatically attach to the roof.

The Pop.Up flying car comprises a two-seat pod-like cabin, with a large touchscreen for programming destinations that comes up with the most efficient route, either by road and air.

Airbus plans to have a working prototype in action by the end of this year, with it ready for the market in five to ten years.

The jam-buster has been developed by Airbus with motor industry specialists Italdesign and was given its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this week.

The aeroplane manufacturer – best known for its A380 ‘superjumbo’ – says it is moving into the automotive sphere because technologies that were once separate are now converging – such as electric power, autonomous driving, and carbon-fibre construction.

Airbus said: "The Pop.Up combines the flexibility of a small two-seater vehicle with the freedom and speed of a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air vehicle, thus bridging the automotive and aerospace domains."