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Italdesign, Airbus develop car that can be airlifted above traffic

Italdesign and aircraft manufacturer Airbus are working on a futuristic car whose upper body can be airlifted by a drone and flown above traffic congestion, sources said.

Italdesign will debut a concept for the vehicle at the Geneva auto show on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the matter.

The concept will be for a two-stage car that would cruise city streets. The passenger would sit in a capsule on top of a self-driving chassis. If the vehicle hits traffic congestion, a large drone measuring roughly 5 meters by 5 meters would pick up the capsule and fly it to a destination.

Italdesign first developed a car with an upper body and chassis that could separate with the Capsula concept unveiled at the 1982 Turin auto show. The Capsula had an Alfa Romeo chassis with a cabin on top. There were different upper cabins such as a passenger car, a commercial van or a minibus that could be switched according to what was needed.

The new Italdesign/Airbus concept would be a ground/air vehicle that would offer fast, shared individual mobility in crowded megacities.

Italdesign, Audi’s design and engineering subsidiary, is looking to innovative future mobility solutions to increase its engineering and prototype business, as well as to expand its customer base beyond traditional automakers.

The Italdesign project is not related to a flying car project under development by Airbus called Vahana. Airbus plans to test a prototype for a helicopter-style car that would be used for ride-sharing by the end of the year.

Italdesign and Airbus declined to comment for this story.

Last month, Italdesign said it had formed a business division to build limited-edition supercars. The new unit will unveil its first car, a coupe priced at 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) plus taxes, at the Geneva show.

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