With the air taxi market expected to grow to $14.7 billion by 2041, it's only logical that the next step will be private flying cars. With that high-end future market in mind, Urban eVTOL is developing a sleek-looking flying car that it claims will reach top speeds of 250-mph (400 km/h) and have a range close to 300 miles (483 km), a report by New Atlas explains.
The flying car, called the LEO Coupe, is being developed by vertical propulsion systems specialist Pete Bitar and supercar designer Carlos Salaff, who is known for the Mazda Furai concept amongst other designs. Both are working under a new company, Urban eVTOL, to build new personal passenger aircraft that will allow anyone with enough money to enjoy the benefits of vertical takeoff and landing technologies from home.
New hypercar-like flying car fits in a single garage space
Those supercar credentials are plain to see in the company's renders, as the LEO looks more like a flying hypercar than anything we've ever seen. However, it's arguably the engineering behind the machine that truly stands out. The 3-seater LEO will utilize 16 10-kW vertical thrusters for vertical liftoff, and more at the back of the aircraft for horizontal thrust — the renders don't reflect the latest thrust configuration. The exterior will be built using a box-wing design, allowing it to support itself in horizontal flight once it reaches speeds of 115 mph (185 km/h).
Though the LEO's small wings might mean the aircraft needs to maintain high speeds to remain airborne, the design allows it to take up much less space once on the ground — one of the main advantages cited by many flying taxi firms, including Kelekona with its wing-bodied eVTOL aircraft. Impressively, Urban eVTOL says the LEO will only occupy one car space in a garage, meaning owners could stow it away at home.
The flying car will use a 66-kWh battery system, split up into several units for redundancy and reserve purposes, allowing it to fly for approximately an hour and 15 minutes, with an extra five minutes of takeoff and landing using reserve power. The rear units will be swappable on the ground for a quick turnaround.
Innovative eVTOL safety features
Of course, any owner of a high-speed private aircraft with a battery time of just over an hour will want to know that their vehicle isn't going to fall out of the sky when it's on low charge. Thankfully, Urban eVTOL seems to have an incredibly well-thought-out safety system for the LEO. As Bitar explained to NewAtlas, the company is testing three main safety features for the LEO.
These include a ballistic parachute for "last-ditch safety", and a ballistic rocket system on the bottom of the flying car that would be "similar to what Bezos used to slow down his capsule right before it touched the ground."
Lastly, the company is also developing a landing solution called "Cat's Paws," an inflatable landing system that would allow the aircraft to perform soft landings, and would even be able to keep it level even if it landed on a slope.
Urban eVTOL aims to build a prototype for its LEO Coupe and to start flight tests in 2022, and the company is looking for investment to allow it to move to the following stage of developing full-scale prototypes. Though a lot of testing is still needed before anyone could get their hands on this flying speedster, Bitar claimed that the firm believes it can get the price down to below $290,000.