• Sanjay Manival Raju

How high will these cars fly?

Updated: Jan 29

"Mark my words: a combination airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile, but it will come."

- Henry Ford


The automotive industry could look back at the various transitions it’s been through. Elements have been dealt with in entirety, paving way for developments. Innovation sees no limit though; the industry is subject to exploring new capabilities and now commits to bind the land and air. Several attempts were made in the past to prove the concept of a flying car but it plunged to the ground.  From a modern day’s standpoint, will flying cars get their share of space?


Here are a few notable, seemingly promising representatives of flying cars:


Terrafugia Transition A pioneer in roadable aircrafts, terrafugia’s transition was a practical and a refined model that deduced the nature of a flying car. The self-sustaining transformation brought convenience for converting into flight and drive modes. The first prototype flew in 2009 and has been undergoing several trials ever since to accommodate compliance and other design changes.

Terrafugia also proposes a hi-tech version: The TF-X, a Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft that would have autonomous capability. If shaped as proposed, its enhanced performance and streamlined design could be a game changer.

Aeromobil This Slovakian flying car was worked on under versions with the latest being 3.0 that made its first flight in 2013. The model is visually appealing and comes with sophisticated equipment levels that would draw attention only from the ‘very wealthy.’ As of 2017, they propose a hybrid model with developments in design and styling.

PAL-V

The Dutch too are involved with their roadable gyro-copter, the PAL-V ONE. From a ‘drive mode’ perspective, I believe this could be more practical for its compact design and agility. It took flight in 2012 and has undergone developments to a production model under the name PAL-V Liberty.


When we work aggressively and invest in shaping innovative mobility solutions, we can very well agree on the ‘air space’ being an untapped area. With the above few models in developments for over 10 years now, they are known to come to the consumer world in the next 4-5 years.


Will they have a place in the future of transportation though?

Federal Aviation Administration is still validating the specifics and finding a way to categorize these roadable aircrafts. Besides, it is certain that several sanctions will be placed over the ownership of these vehicles owing to the erratic nature of human behavior and requirement to exercise profound responsibility, while interacting with the airspace. Also, the ownership of personal aircrafts would have to avoid interference, with the commercial aviation industry whose operations are increasingly becoming heavy.

Considerable validation is yet to be completed over the concept of ‘personal air vehicle’ and its practicality in the current dense transport network. Perhaps, these future models can see themselves setting trends in the transport industry owing to their amphibious nature and increased capabilities. A hybrid mobility solution can be applied to various other areas beyond just being a personal air vehicle deemed to be operated for an individual’s comfort. Through an infrastructure, ecosystem and sustainable development, these concepts have a potential to revolutionize the commercial transport industry.

With time, we shall see their influence and resourcefulness.

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