There are many companies developing flying cars, but we are yet to see a commercially available unit you could "pop out" and buy.
Now when you say flying car, you'll probably think of some hybrid between a car, i.e. has wheels, with wings for flight. But could this be extended to some form of personalized transport that we could use like a "traditional" car for taking off and landing without the need for a runway? In other words, personal VTOL "flying cars".
The old idea of a car might well become obsolete as there is more of a drive for mini-airplanes without the need for using roads at all. Of course, time will tell. This might seem a pedantic point. but to become a practical replacement for motor vehicles. Why drive when you can fly? If this technology can be perfected why would we even need roads anymore?
In the following article, we'll explore 5 companies that are currently toiling on some concepts to give us all the promise of the Jetsons.
Terrafugia was founded in 2006 by a five MIT graduates. Since then they have been working tirelessly to bring a real flying car to market for the masses. They have a dedicated team of experienced engineers, designers, certification experts, and business professionals. These chaps pool their expertise in their pursuit of a common vision for the future of personal transportation.
Their mission statement is a pretty inspiring one to be honest:-
"We intend to revolutionize transportation and create a new dimension of personal freedom for us all. We believe the future is within our reach, and we are building it, today." - Terrafugia
They are currently developing two interesting design concepts for flying cars.
The first Terrafugia flying car is called the Transition. This is claimed, by Terrafugia, to the be the world's first practical flying car. The car will offer the convenience of driving with the speed of flight, so they believe. They have already completed two full-scale prototypes and conducted test flights of them.
The TF-X will be a mass-market flying car which, they believe, will revolutionize the way we all get around. This will be an all-electric, VTOL, computer controlled car for the future. It also looks pretty awesome.
Aeromobil is a Slovakian based contender for the future of flying cars. Their self-titled Aeromobil might just be one of the "coolest" looking flying cars we've seen in a little while.
But please, judge for yourself.
"AeroMobil is an exceptional vehicle. It‘s a real flying car, with all that a car and an aeroplane have to offer. Because of its true flexibility, you have a choice: road or air. The choice is ultimately up to you, but, whether you choose to be aerial or earthbound, AeroMobil will always turn heads." - Aeromobil
Well, it will certainly turn heads, that's for sure. The Aeromobil is currently in development, but close to completion. It is powered by an internal turbocharged combustion boxer engine with a FADEC digital control system.
During road driving mode, the flying car is driven by a hybrid electrical system. As Aeromobil says:-
"The generator is the same engine that powers the vehicle in the air; this in turn powers a pair of electric motors located in the front axle." - Aeromobil
They plan to make test flights sometime this year.
Zee.Aero made the news headlines last year when they were "honored" with a $100 million financial backing from Google co-founder Larry Page. These guys appear to rather "hush-hush" with very little confirmed information on their activities beyond their U.S. patent.
Their website is tantalizingly, or annoyingly (depending on your point of view), lacking in information. It does have a rather brief introduction, that is rather succinct:-
It does have a rather brief introduction, that is rather succinct:-
"We’re designing, building, and testing better ways to get from A to B." - Aero.Zee
These chaps are based in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Francisco. Their offices are based pretty close to the those of Google, so it should come as no surprise they would receive attention from this tech giant. They appear to be actively looking for talented engineers and other employees. If you fancy a challenge here is their bait for new recruits:-
"Working at the intersection of aerodynamics, advanced manufacturing, and electric propulsion, we provide a stimulating environment where creative employees can explore new challenges." - Aero.Zee
4. Kitty Hawk
Mr. Page seems to have high aspirations for flying cars. He has also made a significant investment in another developer, Kitty Hawk. This one, believe it or not, is even more secretive than Aero.Zee. For those history buffs amongst you, you will see the connection with flight history. This is where the Wright Brothers changed history forever.
Bloomberg recently released an article that might shed some more light on these chaps for us. Sadly you'll need a subscription to read the whole article. But, Kitty Hawk, according to Bloomberg, had around 12 engineers as of June last year.
Their website does have details on their first prototype, the Kitty Hawk Flyer. This is specifically designed for flying over water. Granted it's not what we would expect from a flying car, but we doubt this is the only vehicle they are working on.
Employees include Emerick Oshiro who worked on Google's self-driving cars. They also have David Estrada who dealt with legal affairs for Google X. At least, Kitty Hawk was listed on their LinkedIn profiles until Bloomberg contacted them for comments. Very interesting indeed.
Very interesting indeed.
5. A³ (an R and D arm of Airbus)
Yes, that's right, Airbus. A³ have some intriguing proposals for the future of personalized transportation. They have been quietly busying away on a secret flying car project called The Vahana. The European aerospace giant recently unveiled concepts for the Vahana and they look pretty sweet. It is touted as being a single seater, autonomously piloted aircraft with VTOL capabilities.
The concept drawing is pretty awesome, to be honest. The project launched in 2016 by A³ (A cubed) which is Airbus' Silicon Valley arm.
So there you go. Of course, this is just a sample of the companies out there working on flying cars. Which ones would you have preferred to have been included? Leave your comments below.