With all the hype about autonomous vehicles, it’s easy to forget about the failure of flying cars to come to market. Is it likely that flying cars will enter mass production any time soon or will they remain a distant pipe dream? We’ll be probing that issue today and we’ll kick off with something that might surprise you… Flying cars already exist and they’re perhaps closer to penetrating the mainstream than you might imagine…
3 Flying Cars Already in Production
- AeroMobil 4.0
- PAL-V Liberty
- Terrafugia Transition
You might be surprised to know that a Slovakian start-up has entered the rarified stratosphere of flying cars with the AeroMobil 4.0
. Here at Smarthome
, we’ve been watching developments of this exciting VTOL (vertical take off and landing) over the past few years. As you’d expect, building a flying car and bringing it market is remarkably complex. According to Doug MacAndrew (AeroMobil CTO) the manufacturer is requesting airworthiness approval from the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency). MacAndrew points out that aircraft regulation in Europe and the US is “very similar indeed.
’ He adds that the company could start selling the vehicle in the US “within months
” of doing so in Europe. So, what is the 4.0, then? To kick off, you’ll need a Sports Pilot License and access to a runway. Assuming you have these and north of $1 million to burn, what will you get for your money? Well, design is show-stopping and based on the concept of a teardrop. Powered by an internal combustion boxer engine, this powerplant is lighter than a typical aerospace engine. You get 300 HP of power on tap during flight mode. When you hit the ground, the hybrid electric system kicks in to propel your carbon fiber ride. Integrated digital displays in the glass cockpit give you a set-up much like a conventional, scaled-down aviation cockpit. Full testing is expected to roll out next year. Don’t be too surprised if you see one of these remarkable vehicles of the future gliding down the road some time soon!
Marketed as the world’s first flying car
, the Liberty from PAL-V
was showcased at the Geneva Motor Show in 2018. Is this really the future meeting point of automobile and aviation, though? With two seats, brisk acceleration and a top speed of 100mph in driving mode, the Liberty won’t be breaking any records. That said, what could beat the convenience of transforming your road car into a plane in less than 10 minutes? Gyroplane tech allows for safe landing even in the event of something going amiss. Robert Dingemanse, PAL-V’s CEO, admits there will be no market for mass-produced, city-based flying cars for at least another decade. Liberty, Dingemanse states, is “for a unique group that writes history with us
.” The PAL-V can be fueled with regular gasoline and you can take off from a small patch of concrete or grass. You’ll also be able to park the vehicle in a regular garage. These elements remove many of the roadblocks to flying cars and make the prognosis for mass production good. An initial limited edition run of 90 PAL-V Liberty flying cars is entering production. Once this run is complete, production will switch to the Liberty Sport.
Marketed with an equally bold tagline “The flying car is here
”, the Terrafugia Transition
is a pilots-only car. The vehicle converts to a plane at the push of a button in 60 seconds flat. A decade has elapsed since the first prototype of the Transition. Fortunately, this lengthy hiatus has been time enough for a number of improvements on the original design. An all-new hybrid powertrain gives you a top speed of 100mph just like the PAL-V. Range is a pretty impressive 400 miles. Terrafugia was acquired by Chinese automobile giants Geely in 2017. The ensuing cash injection has pushed Transition from drawing board to reality. The company standpoint is that this is a street-legal plane rather than a car that flies. The intended user is likely to be a pilot flying in and out of small airports. The nature of this projected use case has streamlined things somewhat for Terrafugia. Why is this? Well, there’s not the same need for urban air traffic control considerations. Do you dream of flying at 10,000 feet with your partner by your side, soaring above city traffic? If so, that could be within your grasp sooner than you think. The writing is very clearly on the wall.
The Future of Flying Cars
Now we’ve glimpsed at a trio of flying cars already in production, we would have to summarize by saying that these vehicles are not likely to be mass-produced this decade. What direction will transportation take, then? Well, Porsche and Boeing have joined forces having identified commercial passenger drones as something likely to roll out by 2025. The combined forces are already hard at work on concept models for next summer. Uber suggest air taxis could be commonplace by as early as 2023. That seems wildly ambitious but is nevertheless the company line. Rather than developing flying cars in-house, the ride-hail king has hooked up with aviation start-ups instead. Outside the US, police in the UAE are already operating superlight motorbikes capable of up to 25 minutes in the air depending on conditions. So… The need for flying cars remains fairly ambiguous but there’s certainly been a great deal of traction in this segment of the market over the past year so we’re psyched to see how things develop in 2020.
Hopefully you’re just as excited as us about the way transportation is liable to pivot over the course of the coming decade. As autonomous cars start studding the highways, how long is it before flying cars become a reality in urban skies? Bookmark out blog as we’ve got a busy slate this coming month. Pop back regularly for unbiased product reviews, plenty of helpful guides and all the latest smart home news
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