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A flying car was once just a fancy concept that amazed us and many thought impossible. After breakthroughs and public tests were made, these ‘flying cars’ are now very close to coming out.
There are still many challenges that these car flight companies face and that is understandable. What is amazing is that we now have the tools and technology to create these kinds of things for ourselves. We might one day be looking at a sky filled with flying vehicles just like in the movie The Fifth Element.
Here is a list of the most advanced flying cars that are continuously being developed today.
Airbus and Italdesign’s Pop.Up
There are a lot of amazing concept cars being unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. However, one specific design rises above all of them quite literally. The Pop.Up is a VTOL flying car that is the fruit of the collaboration between design house Italdesign and aerospace manufacturer Airbus. The Pop.Up has an electric vehicle chassis that can detach itself to whirring rotors of a multi-copter.
Airbus has been developing personal commuter drones and Italdesign has been working on autonomous car designs. That is why it is not a surprise that they came up with this concept. If you can look past the huge drone on top of it, the vehicle will look just like your typical urban commuter.
It is capable of producing zero emissions with its electric power train. The design is made to work with a vehicle-sharing app that lets travelers book their ride through it. They can then use the app to view information such as cost, timing, ride-sharing demand and more. The autonomous car flight design might become available to the public after several more years of testing and development.
Uber’s Flying Taxi
Last November, Uber has been planning to add flying taxis to its present transportation system. It was not clear during that time what the appearance of such vehicles would be. Recently however, the company has announced that it partnered with Aurora Flight Sciences to develop an electric vertical take-off and landing car for its Uber Elevate Network.
This flying car design is capable of holding two passengers for now and has eight horizontal propellers for vertical takeoff and landing. Moreover, the design has a vertical propeller at the back which allows for the air taxi to switch to a faster mode of flight once it is airborne.
A functioning model of this flying car has already been tested. Its concept is a combination of technologies coming from several projects Aurora has been busy on. A good example is the XV-24A X-plane demonstrator made for the US Department of Defense whose electric propulsion system is being used by the air taxi.
The Audi Shark
For people who love a fantastic sports car of the future concept, then there is nothing more trending and award-winning than the Audi Shark. This concept of a sports car was designed by Kazim Doku, who not only won the design competition with it back in 2008 but also has other awards under his belt.
To start off, the Audi Shark is a flying car that can seat two people. It is rightly named because it has a sleek and shark-like appearance with lights that are made of transparent tubes. The interior looks just like a cockpit from Star Wars, but the seats are as sporty as they can be. Doku was inspired by the thought of a motorcycle and airplane combination for a future car while designing the Shark.
The style borrows some elements from the Audi S5, TT, and R8, but looks downright any Audi car with its trademark LED lighting. It has a front-hinged canopy with airfoils which replaces the wheels when it takes off. At the back are paddles that provide control and balance for the vehicle while maneuvering at high speeds. The Audi Shark is truly a compelling vision for us on what the future has in store.
Terrafugia’s TF-X & Transition
You may have heard of the flying car developer Terrafugia before. This company has just last year released new designs for its upcoming TF-X model. This planned vehicle is an autonomous flying car announced way back in 2013. It now shows an updated body shape with a sleeker design with a model that will be tested in an MIT wind tunnel soon.
If you think that flying cars may be a bit out of reach right now, then you might think of autonomous ones as even more far-fetched. But not long before the TF-X was announced, Terrafugia has shown a video of its first public flight for the Transition flying car model.
Although the Transition would need a runway for it to lift off, the TF-X is capable of landing and taking off vertically. The company aims for a vehicle design that can give true ‘door-to-door transportation’ to its users. The TF-X is planned to seat up to four individuals and will also have a computer-controlled apparatus for easier car flight. Check out the rendered video for the concept TF-X below.
Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk Flyer
One of Google’s co-founders, Larry Page, has recently been supporting a new ‘flying car’ company named Kitty Hawk. They want to create a prototype aircraft that will be the new trend. This all-electric vehicle is not a ‘flying car’ but is able to fly over water and does not require its users to have a pilot’s license. The company states that a consumer version is going to be available by the end of 2017. Stay tuned!
The video you see above is a part test and commercial footage. This is to showcase just how the Larry Page flying car model can be used to meet up with friends.
AeroMobil Flying Car
The Prince of Monaco at the Top Marques Monaco has recently unveiled a flying car design set to be parked at the garages – or hangars – of customers by 2020. AeroMobil is a company based in Slovakia and displayed its claims of a production model of its Flying Car last April 2017. They have already started taking customer pre-orders for their initial 500-unit run.
This vehicle has the appearance and curves similar to a supercar. Although it is capable of achieving car flight with its foldable wings, it can still fit into a large car parking space at home. It is capable of driving up to 160 km/h or 99 mph on asphalt. Drivers can then bring this up to their nearest airport, convert it into a plane with a button and start flying.
Converting from the folded position will take less than three minutes to accomplish. Its wings would fold out, the front wheels get tucked behind the chassis and a pitch pusher propeller comes out at the rear. Car flight with this model will give you a cruise speed of 259 km/h or 161 mph. It can also carry a maximum load of 240 kg (529lb) safely.
PAL-V the Dutch developer of a flying car model is looking to make good on its promise that it will have its product the first in the market. The company has undergone successful test flights while meeting the road and aviation standards for both the United States and Europe. It has recently announced that it is already taking reservations for the dual-engine three-wheel gyrocopter Liberty.
Many years of hard work has paid off for the Dutch company. They were able to beat all of the technical difficulties that they encountered while passing all qualification challenges. Their teams successfully created an innovative flying car that complies with safety standards around the world.
The Liberty from PAL-V features a Rotax dual engine propulsion drive train. The first engine is for driving while the other one is for flying. It is made with the same size of a regular car in mind, with the added benefit of a lowered suspension. The Liberty is capable of fitting at least two persons in its cockpit.
Lilium Aviation Eagle
The concept of Lilium Aviation’s Eagle is a jet vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) electric vehicle that recently completed its debut test flight. Controlled from the ground, this concept flying taxi is capable of seating at least two passengers in its interior. It is still undergoing a series of tests which includes hovering to horizontal flight transitions in mid-air.
The company states that their air taxi is going to be powered by jet engines, but will use electric motors instead of gas turbines. As you can see, the motors of this design can be found on its wings. It has 12 movable flaps that directs airflow down for landing and take-off.
Lilium Aviation is aiming for a 2019 manned flight and is setting its sight to a new five-seater model for on-demand air taxiing services. This new model is allegedly using only 10 percent of the energy a quad-copter styled aircraft would consume. It has a range of 300 km with a speed of 300 km/h or 186 mph. Such speed allows one to travel from JFK Airport all the way to Manhattan in just five minutes!
It has become all too common already for drones to be displayed at consumer technology tradeshows, but almost all of them have one thing in common: we can’t ride any of them. You might wonder why we said, “almost all”. This is because Ehang’s 184 is the exception.
The aerial vehicle is able to carry a single passenger autonomously. It flies them from one place to their desired location. The idea behind the 184 model is for users to easily get in. Once inside, you can then start it, choose your destination and push the “takeoff” button.5