A $140,000 car can fly you over traffic jams in the city

If the regulators let them do so.
Ameya Paleja
The flying car during a test run
The flying car during a test run

Xpeng AeroHT 

Stuck in a traffic jam? A simple flick of a button could unwrap a rotor assembly that can take your car airborne and land on a less busy patch of road to continue your journey again. If this sounds like a scene from a science-fiction movie, then you haven't heard about the Chinese flying car firm, Aeroht, which plans to take such a car into production by 2025, Bloomberg reported.

The increase in the number of automobiles in cities has prompted traffic problems everywhere. When widening of roads did not help, we built bridges to fly over some, and Elon Musk decided to build tunnels under them. Yet, traffic issues do not appear to be going away, and so a new generation of innovators wants to build cars that can fly.

The concept of a flying car is quite overlapping with that of a small vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that can ferry 4-5 passengers over short distances. However, Aeroht 's vision isn't a flying taxi but a car that can fly on demand while it spends most of its time on the road. Far from being just a concept, the prototype vehicle has made two public demo flights already.

What is the flying car like?

Last month, Interesting Engineering reported how Aeroht's flying car, developed in association with Chinese car maker Xpeng, has been equipped with a new distributed multi-rotor configuration, and reductions have been made to the complexity of its design.

Aeroht isn't the only company in the world to have thought of this concept. While most flying car concepts involve VTOLs that can only take off and land using the road, Aeroht's prototype is meant to spend 90 percent of its time on the road and just a small fraction in the air when needed the most.

The reduced ability to fly offers an added advantage. While eVTOLs are expected to be priced in excess of a million dollars, the Aeroht flying car could be yours for as little as $140,000 and could go into production as early as 2025.

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When will it really fly?

According to analysts, the urban mobility market is expected to be worth $1 trillion by 2040. The eVTOL concept has made major strides in the past decade and is likely to be the idea that drives the industry forward.

In addition to Aeroht, there are many companies both in the U.S. and in China that are looking to become the Tesla of this market. They even have pre-orders from taxi fleet operators or airline companies that want to have the first-mover advantage. However, the commercial viability of these concepts is yet to be tested out.

Additionally, the regulatory picture isn't clear either, with no country having formally moved to open up its low airspace to cars. China recently marked a few provinces to conduct trials, and Aeroht is working with the regulator to conduct some field tests. However, fitting rotors and propellers to a car is one thing, and giving the controls to one with no flying experience at all is another.

There are a lot of tiny details that need to be worked out before we see a flying car in action on the roads.