Imagine being stuck in traffic on your commute home from the office. Instead of helplessly waiting for the cars in front of you to move, you decide to hover up into the air, above the traffic jam, and fly the rest of the way home in record time.
I published an article a few weeks ago and mentioned how ludicrous a flying car sounded. At the time, I thought I was getting wayyyyy ahead of myself, but now I’m really second-guessing my previous assumption based on the amazing technological innovations and discoveries happening right before our eyes!
How soon will we see a flying car?
There have been reports saying flying cars could arrive as early as the year 2021! In fact, Uber has been working on an aerial taxi service with NASA. The project is called “Uber Elevate” which will debut by 2020 in Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai, according to The Verge.
Who is making flying cars?
Along with Uber, there are a handful of other companies devoting time to develop flying car plans for the future.
The video above is footage of Kitty Hawk taking flight. Google Co-founder Larry Page has invested and backed this start-up to produce an eventual air-taxi business. Being fully electric and powered by 8 rotors, the Kitty Hawk can fly 15 feet above water and up to 25 mph.
E-Volo Volocopter 2X
Yet another company, E-Volo, is on the verge of adding to the future competition of air-taxi services. The Volocopter has 18 rotors, 6 batteries, and is nearly noiseless.
Airbus released its concept design of a self-piloting flying car early last year: Vahana. It is designed to be able to connect to ground or air units with an aim of creating a taxi service. This taxi service will allow any customer to call for a ride by using an app on their phone, and then deciding which type of transit they wish to use. At the beginning of this year, CNBC reported Vahana just passed its first flight test.
The Chinese drone company EHang has created the world’s first passenger taxi drone—EHang 184. This drone uses 8 electric motors to power its 8 propellers and can carry a passenger who weighs under 220 pounds. The taxi drone can reach speeds up to 62 mph and fly above 11,000 feet in the air. EHang 184 is set to debut in Dubai this coming July!
Aside from the air-taxi service, Terrafugia, a Chinese-owned business in Massachusetts, is developing a 4-seat hybrid that can take off and land vertically, meaning it does not need a runway to take off. Additionally, the TF-X will also be able to be driven on all roads and highways like a normal car. The hybrid will have a 500-mile battery range, reach speeds of up to 200 mph, and will also be able to fit into a normal-sized garage!
In order to pilot/drive the TF-X, you will need a standard driver’s license and a pilot’s license/sport pilot certificate. The price of the flying car will be consistent with high-end luxury cars, but an exact amount has yet to be disclosed. The TF-X’s debut is still relatively unknown, however, Terrafugia is already taking reservations for the flying car on its website.
Unlike the previous models, this actually looks like a true flying car. The Slovakian company AeroMobil has already been taking pre-orders for this $1.3 million flying car that is set to ship out by the year 2020. The company has decided it is only going to manufacture 500 units, so it will most likely be very rare to see any of your neighbors own one.
Similar to the TF-X, the vehicle is powered by a hybrid electric system on the road. When the car hits its most powerful flight mode, it can rise into the air in 3 minutes to achieve 300 hp and top speeds of up to 223 mph. This vehicle, however, does need a runway in order to take off.
What does the future hold?
I’m just as amazed as you are – never in my life did I ever envision myself hearing “flying car” and thinking it could come to fruition.
There are obviously going to be a few hiccups introducing this new technology into our society, as well as many regulations which will need to be put into place (e.g., flying laws, licenses, restrictions). But when flying cars eventually become a norm in our society, what will the skies look like?
Will “air traffic” have an entirely new meaning? How will you know which side of the sky to fly on? Will this interfere with the airline industry? What kind of new laws need to be made? And now my head hurts.
Regardless of all the complexities ahead, it is simply remarkable. Ladies and gentlemen, we now have FLYING CARS!