Report: Airbus, Italdesign Developing Flying Car Concept

March 03, 2017 at 8:20 AM

Volkswagen AG’s Italdesign unit and Airbus Group are developing a concept vehicle with a passenger pod that can separate from the rest of the vehicle and be airlifted over traffic by a drone, Automotive News reports.

The partners plan to unveil the concept model next week at the Geneva auto show, according to the newspaper, which cites unnamed sources. Airbus and Italdesign declined to comment.

The one-seat car will have a capsule that sits on top of a self-driving chassis. The occupant can trigger the capsule to separate from the chassis and be picked up by a large (about 16-ft by 16-ft) drone that can fly the module to its destination, according to the report. The chassis presumably would continue driving in autonomous mode.

The program is separate from the flying taxi that Airbus is developing on its own. The French aeronautics giant plans to demonstrate the vertical take-off and landing vehicle later this year and launch commercial applications early next decade. Several other companies, including Uber and PAL-V, also are developing flying car systems.

Italdesign showed a two-stage concept vehicle in the 1980s. That vehicle, dubbed the Capsula, allowed users to swap different upper modules (passenger cabin, commercial van or minibus) on a common Alfa Romeo chassis.