Flying cars, including cyborgs, and delicious food in the shape of a pill, belong to the future as far as most of us are concerned. While those latter wishes are yet to come true, how about flying vehicles? Well, let's start by saying they are more complicated than this boy's plane that he built himself.
That futuristic cars will ever move on the road has been banished by many science fiction authors and film directors. The "cars" are really tiny planes like the one Anakin Skywalker employed in the Star Wars prequel, "Attack of the Clones."
How real are flying cars today?
How is this a car?
The popular concept of a flying car was just that: vehicles that could fly. The types of flying cars 2020 announced recently range from single-sitting multi-rotors drone-like machines to road-capable cars that turn into small planes and miniature flying boats that float above the water.
Writer Ian Fleming was a student of flying cars in literature and based his 1963 novel 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' on the idea. In his James Bond thriller book (1964) and eventual film, 'The Man with the Golden Gun', he even featured a flying vehicle.
These ideas revolve around a vehicle with wheels that can travel on the road but can also fly if necessary.
It can be seen though, from early prototypes that the present flying cars of the future are more plane than the car in engineering and design. It is expected though that complex machinery and operation will be kept to the safest minimum.
How will flying cars change the world?
If the number of flying cars of the future increases, our cities' architectures and dimensions will eventually change. Since there will be fewer vehicles on the street, traffic will be less congested, and roads will be healthier in general. This will also reduce the expense of buying and driving a road vehicle. It could conceivably result in lower insurance rates.
Following below are the current forerunners in the very serious case to give the world a flying car that you and I can drive … or does it fly? See below.
11 top flying cars that may be taking to the skies in 2021
1. The Terrafugia Transition
The Terrafugia Transition from Woburn, Massachusetts, is a two-passenger road-capable plane. In drive mode, it is powered by a 100-hp Rotax 912iS four-cylinder engine with hybrid-electric motors.
A sport pilot's license is required to operate this and the entire airframe is fitted with a parachute. It is powered by regular car petrol and 100 miles per hour is the top speed.
Volvo and Lotus are both owned by the same Chinese conglomerate that has bought this flying carmaker.
The engineers began their work on the Transition by studying potential obstacles to takeoff and flying. Price points, atmosphere, airport travel, and where to land these aeronautical vehicles were among the four concerns they found.
Consequently, they planned Transition to be able to travel at 100 miles per hour and travel 20 miles per gallon while travelling at about 35 miles ph.
This flying car of the future has wings that can fold, making it a good fit for a normal car garage.
The Terrafugia Transition flying vehicle
2. The AeroMobil
Bratislava, Slovakia's AeroMobil, is a road capable plane powered by a FADEC digital-control unit operated internal-combustion boxer engine.
A front-wheel-drive drivetrain and a hybrid-power system complete the mechanics. The entire airframe is fitted with a parachute, and in 3 minutes, it can be converted from a plane to a vehicle.
You can tag it a flying car 2020 as it is expected to be available in 2020-2021.
The AeroMobil, both car and plane
3. Aston Martin Volante Vision
The Aston Martin Volante Vision is a fully autonomous, three-person capacity, hybrid-power eVTOL. Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and Rolls-Royce Aviation partnered on this mission. Boston to New York City in one hour is the planned output.
The Aston Martin Volante Vision doesn't need a pilot
4. Airbus (A3 Vahana) Alpha One
This autonomous eVTOL is for one passenger. On the forward- and rear-tilt wings, there are eight 60-hp 45-kW engines. Batteries account for a third of the vehicle's weight. Although at low altitudes, a ballistic parachute is equipped to still operate.
Airbus (A3 Vahana) Alpha One flying car
5. Boeing (Aurora) PAV eVTOL
This eVTOL for two passengers is fully self-piloting and is designed for up to 50-mile urban flights. On January 22, 2019, in Manassas, Virginia, the first test flight took place. It's likely that this car will serve as a prototype of the coming Uber Air vehicle.
Boeing (Aurora) PAV eVTOL flying vehicle is made by aircraft maker, Boeing
6. Volocopter 2X
Volocopter 2X, a two-passenger eVTOL from Germany that is self-piloting or flown by the pilot. Beginning in 2016, approval was issued and manned flights were performed. Nine large batteries supply power to 18 drives that are electric. At a cruising speed of 43 miles every hour, the range is 17 miles, and the top speed is 62 miles per hour.
Volocopter 2X flying car or eVOTL
7. Samson Switchblade
Redmond, Oregon-based Samson Switchblade is a dual-passenger roadable plane. Driven by a 1.6-litre V-4 engine with 190 horsepower that is liquid cooling. It is necessary to get a private pilot's license to fly this. Maximum airspeed is 200 miles per hour and 120 mph is the top speed on the road. The max range is 450 miles, and the DIY basic kit is projected to cost $120,000.
Good on the road or in the air, the Samson Switchblade
8. EHang 184
China's EHang 184 is a one-passenger eVTOL. The world's first man-carrying drone, according to the news. Over the last 3 years, over 1,000 test flights at heights of up to 1,000 feet have been completed. It has a 220-pound payload rating and the total time for charging fully is one hour.
Ehang, the Chinese firm, is planning to install a parachute on its flying car operation in Dubai. According to news, this service will transport one person from one Dubai skyscraper to another.
If the parachute opens, it's unclear if the car will be able to control where it lands or how safely it does so.
EHang 184 could be the first flying taxi in the world
9. Opener BlackFly
Google co-founder Larry Page has invested in a startup in Palo Alto, California, which is the company behind this eVTOL with a single seat.
It features fixed double wings, joystick controls, completely self-piloted flight capability, and 62 mph is the cruising speed. The distance is 25 miles, and when fully produced, the cost is expected to be the same as an SUV.
A flying car funded by the Google family, neat: The Opener BlackFly
10. Lilium Jet
Out of Gilching, Germany comes the world's first "electric jet" VTOL. The European Space Agency is in charge of its development.
Joystick fly-by-wire operation (needs sport pilot's license), five-passenger carrying plane with rechargeable ducted-fan engines (435 hp).
250 mph is the planned cruise speed. Frank Stephenson, the erstwhile McLaren director of design, has been the leader of product design since 2018.
The Lilium all-electric aircraft's maintenance difficulty is greatly diminished thanks to the use of a vast series of tiny electric motors. It also has built-in support in case one of the motors dies.
Germany's Lilium Jet flying car looks cool
>>> You might also like to read: [Photos] Nigerian engineer unveils a flying car he made here in Nigeria
11. Moller SkyCar
Despite four decades of design and a reported $150 million in capital investment, none of the Canadian engineer Paul Moller's designs has ever flown fully and unattached. Thus it might not be the flying car of the future we all expected.
The Moller SkyCar is yet to take to the sky
How safe are these flying cars?
“How safe is this piece of equipment?” any future traveler may wonder. As per the course for all initial technologies, the popular answer right now is "not that secure."
Having come a long way from questions like 'is a flying car real? (Not this kind of flying car though, lol), we, nonetheless, cannot claim to be there yet. Questions still abound like flying car price, etc.
As it concerns safety, the flying car picture is not robust at all. Companies are scrambling to make their planes "safe enough" in order to persuade authorities and policymakers that they can be trusted with people's lives.
However, there are significant safety concerns. One of the most important issues is what to do should conditions go terribly wrong.
In a regular vehicle, you can usually only ground to a stop and rest. However, a flying car might crash into the ground, harming not only its passengers but also spectators on the ground.
Many of the mechanics of flight are auto-programmed in the aviation industry currently.
Given the difficulties of human flying versus driving a vehicle, as well as attempts to eliminate pilot error in air transport, flying cars are increasingly likely to become autonomous, eliminating the need for a pilot flying.
You can see an early flying car by Ehang in the video below:
Ehang's Dubai flying taxi
There you have it, flying cars are actually expected to fly carrying passengers. How well they hug the sky, and the entire flying car future, however, is a tale still in the telling.
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