WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
- The future of mobility is still going to be multi-modal but nothing says we have to stay on the ground
None of us like sitting in a traffic jam and watching the taxi meter rise, or the world pass us by, but now an incredible new taxi that both drives on roads and flies through the air could be the solution to travelling through congested cities – at least that’s what Airbus, who teamed up with Uber last year to co-develop a Sky Taxi service, and who’ll be trialling their new service later this year, thinks. And that’s what they’re hoping you’ll think too.
Hot on the heels of Dubai announcing that they’ll be rolling out the world’s first Sky Taxi service with Chinese company EHang in July, Pop.Up, Airbus’ latest multi-modal transport concept, is the world’s first modular electric vehicle that can travel on land and in the air.
Designed by Italdesign and Airbus, and unveiled this week It was launched at the Geneva International Motor Show the vehicle’s carbon fiber cabin can be added to two separate electric propelled motors that allow it to either travel on roads or fly.
The two seater vehicle is capable of a Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) when attached to the flight propellers, which makes it perfect for getting around busy cities when you hit a jam, and travellers would plan their journey and book their trip via an app, which would suggest the best transport solution according to the time of day, cost, traffic congestion and ridesharing demands.
For megacity journeys with lots of traffic congestion the cabin can be disconnected from the “car” module and be whisked off by a 16ft by 14ft propeller unit, after which it can autonomously jet around the city, and once passengers reach their destination, the propeller and car modules can autonomously return to their charging stations and wait for their next customers. This means that the passengers can stay in the cabin for the entire duration of their journey as it “flips” between modes.
“Adding the third dimension to transportation networks will without a doubt improve the way we live and how we get from A to B. Successfully designing and implementing solutions that will work both in the air and on the ground requires a joint reflection on the part of both aerospace and automotive sectors, alongside collaboration with local government bodies for infrastructure and regulatory frameworks,” said Mathias Thomsen, General Manager for Urban Air Mobility at Airbus.
“Today, automobiles are part of a much wider ecosystem – if you want to design the urban vehicle of the future, the traditional car cannot alone be the solution for megacities,” added CEO Jörg Astalosch, the CEO of Italdesign.
As for myself while I like the concept – and let’s face it, this will be turned into an Airbus Uber like service – it sounds like a faff. Can you really see autonomous propeller and car units whizzing around a city to dock at their charging points, creating even more congestion?
Personally I still think that for now atleast the future of sky Taxi’s lies with companies, and concepts like EHang’s that’s being trialled in Dubai. But that said concepts are always a good idea because they spark the imagination, but as for whether this one will come into production – it might, but it’s appeal will probably be limited. That said though I still want a ride in one…
Matthew Griffin Global Futurist, Tech Evangelist, X Prize Mentor ● Int'l Keynote Speaker ● Disruption, Futures and Innovation expert
Matthew Griffin, Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute, a global futures think tank, is described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers.” Recognised in 2013, 2015 and 2016 as one of Europe’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew mentors several XPrize teams, and is an award winning author, entrepreneur and international speaker who is regularly featured on the BBC, Discovery, Kurzweil, Newsweek, TechCrunch and VentureBeat. Working hand in hand with accelerators, investors, governments, multi-nationals and regulators around the world Matthew shines a light on the future and helps them transform their industries, organisations, products and services by demonstrating how the combination of democratised, and increasingly powerful emerging technologies, are helping fuel cultural, industrial and societal change that is transforming old industries and creating new ones. Matthew’s clients include Accenture, Bain & Co, Bank of America, Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting Group, Dell EMC, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, E&Y, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, Huawei, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, McKinsey & Co, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Schroeder’s, Sequoia Capital, UBS, the UK’s HM Treasury, the USAF and many others.