Italdesign and Airbus Showing Self-Driving Car With Flying Passenger Pod

A design company and aircraft manufacturer are ready to show a concept car capable of self-driving and releasing the passenger to a drone to fly it away from congested roads.

Italdesign, Audi’s design and engineering subsidiary, and Europe-based aircraft giant Airbus will debut this concept car next week at the Geneva auto show, according off the record sources which spoke to Automotive News.

It’s designed to have three-phase functionality: the passenger can sit in a capsule of the self-driving car and if traffic gets bad enough, a drone will hover over, attach itself, and then airlift the passenger pod to the intended destination. The self-driving chassis will end the trip on its own.

The flying drone will be squared off and sizable – about 5 meters by 5 meters (16.4 feet).

The concept goes back a few years. Italdesign’s Capsula concept, as seen in the photo above, was unveiled at the 1982 Turn auto show. That prototype was built on an Alfa Romeo chassis with a cabin placed on top. Different variations had been designed, including passenger car, commercial van, or a minibus, that could be switched as needed.

Since then, drone aircrafts have become nearly commonplace, used extensively by the U.S. military and in commercial operations for deliveries and other functions.

The new concept from Italdesign and Airbus would offer the latest in ground mobility for crowded, congested cities combined with the potential of flying vehicles.

Flying cars have captured the imaginations of several designers, engineers, and corporate executives. Google co-founder Larry Page is investing in two startups that are working on flying cars. Ride-hailing leader Uber has launched the Uber Elevate subsidiary and hired the NASA engineer thought to be the father of flying cars to lead the company’s future fleet of small flying cars powered by electric motors.

SEE ALSO:  Uber Hires NASA Engineer Thought To Be Flying Car Pioneer

Italdesign sees its future tied to innovative mobility solutions, and going beyond just working with traditional automakers.

The company will also be showing a limited-edition supercar at the Geneva show. It will be priced at 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) plus taxes and will be the first phase of a business division offering such cars.

Airbus has another flying car project in the works coming out soon. Airbus will be testing a prototype for a helicopter-style car that could be used for ridesharing services and will make its debut by the end of the year.

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