Since the very beginning days of the automotive age, there have long been dreams of flying cars. Even Henry Ford created a prototype back in 1936 for what many would say is basically a flying version of his early Ford vehicles. Obviously, that Ford prototype never took off because he we all are still driving the mean streets everyday to and from work.
However, as designers and engineers work to find solutions to our everyday problems – especially the struggle against traffic and aging infrastructure – we are getting closer to turning our personal cars into flying ones.
Flying cars would solve so many issues that many of us have, however, the new tech would likely also create many new issues from economic viability and inclusivity to air traffic control and increased pollution levels. So how we do tackle the future sustainably?
Life-changing tech is progressing faster than ever. Case in point: this futuristic flying car.
Flying cars, the versatile vehicles fit for both land and air, have long been a dream for mankind. That dream has become a reality, though for a very limited number of people. For now.
Out of a desire to develop a vehicle that would travel both on land and through the air, Slovakia’s Klein Vision set out to develop what would later be called the AirCar. The final AirCar prototype was introduced to the public in 2019, at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China, and has been undergoing airport tests ever since.
It has also completed its first flight, as Klein Vision proudly announced the other day. Sensational footage of the AirCar shows it driving on a runway, stopping to deploy wings, and then soaring through the air. The test flights were conducted at Piestany Airport in Slovakia and included two takeoffs and two landings, all four of which were successful.
Here’s everything we know about this sci-fi looking ride.
The AirCar, as you can see in the video above, is a car by land and a small airplane by air. The conversion takes under 3 minutes, and is possible thanks to the foldable wings and retractable rear. The vehicle boast a range of 1,000 km (621 miles) and a top speed of 200 kph (124.2 mph), though Klein Vision doesn’t say in which mode these figures are registered.
According to the company, AirCar is at an advantage compared to other similar protypes.
“With AirCar you will arrive at your destination without the hassle of getting a ride to the airport and passing through commercial security, you can drive your AirCar to the golf course, the office, the mall or your hotel and park it in a normal parking space,” Anton Zajac, Klein Vision’s co-founder, investor and pilot, says in a statement.
No price details have been revealed for the futuristic vehicle, but it can travel for about 620 miles at a time and could be seen in the air and on the roads from next year.
Cars can be heavy, but planes must be light and so finding that balance for the AirCar was a major challenge for Klein and his team. It requires a runway of at least 984ft to get from ground to sky and can reach speeds of up to 124 miles per hours, according to Klein. AirCar has wings that unfurl and a single propeller at the rear. The wings fold up when the vehicle is on the road and it takes up the space of a normal parking spot.
‘The wing and tail deployment/retraction mechanism is very impressive, converting the automobile into an airplane,’ said Dr Branko Sarh, former Boeing expert.
‘The cockpit providing space for the driver/pilot and a passenger is very roomy and nicely styled. The overall appearance of the flying car on road and in the air is superb,’ Sarh added.
The company behind the AirCar says that it could have models ready for sell within six months.
The AirCar is ticking off milestone after milestone. Having achieved its maiden flights, Klein Vision is confident that the company can deliver the first round of production within the next six months. Taking the prototype from idea to actual working vehicle was a matter of 18 months, so these guys (apparently) know a thing or two about a speedy delivery. Moreover, they’re also working on variations of this model and plan to deliver 2- and 4-seater versions, a twin-engine version and an amphibious version.
All this is amazing news – and a great accomplishment for the future technology. But they’re still facing the biggest challenge in the process, like other builders of such flying cars: actually getting government agencies to approve them for their intended use.
Then there’s the whole often-overlooked issue of how do we make sure this technology is inclusive of all people – not just those at the top.
All too often new technologies are developed without keeping in mind the needs of those other than the ultra-rich. How can we make sure that everyone will have access to these new ideas and tools? For their part, the developers say it has been designed so that the stability and control of the AirCar is accessible to any pilot, with no specialist training required. This would likely cutdown on the necessary costs of additional training and classes, making it more accessible.
However, the AirCars accessibility will largely come down to price. Although Klein Vision hasn’t yet released projected pricing, even the least expensive aircraft costs upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Of course, this is the first ‘flaying car’ that has made it this far through the development process and their will likely be less expensive models in the future. But as technologies continue to develop and new products are brought into the mainstream, companies and authorities must consider their impact on our communities – how will they affect us, our planet and environment, and our collective prosperity.
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