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Flying cars: A myth or realityBack

FlyingCarIt was reported this week that flying cars are set to be tested by the end of this year according to one of the world’s biggest aerospace companies, Airbus.

But are flying cars a reality, or just an idea we’ re hooked on since the days when Marty McFly climbed inside the Delorian and flew off into the future?

Airbus are confident that a prototype of a flying car will be tested by the end of this year with cars expected to be put into production by 2021.

Below, Trusted Dealers takes a look at the development of the flying car so far.

Urban Air Mobility

Flying cars may have been a science fiction phenomenon for decades thanks to high profile movies such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Back To The Future and The Fifth Element, but investment in the concept is finally emerging.

In 2016, Airbus formed a division called Urban Air Mobility to investigate ideas such as a vehicle to transport individuals or a helicopter-style vehicle that can carry multiple riders. Users would ‘book’ the vehicle using an app, similar to popular transport company, Uber.

Airbus have also been working on “vertical take-off and landing” (VTOL) technology designed to allow vehicles to pick up passengers in busy urban areas, with a view to the cars going into production.

In addition, Google founder Larry Page  has already invested millions into two flying car start-ups, while Chinese company E-Hang has a prototype design, and Amazon are currently working on delivery drones to reduce their on-ground delivery services.

Manufacture of a flying car

The future success of a flying car will largely depend on how it is manufactured. Manufacturers are already keen to point out that you cannot simply add wings to a car. TransitionRoadableAircraftInstead, a ‘roadable aircraft’ needs to be constructed which is capable of running on a standard road as well as flying in the sky without problems. Consumers will also be expecting the comfort of a car inside the small aircraft.

A fully working flying car, the ‘Transition Roadable Aircraft’ is going to be manufactured commercially by Terrafugia, a Massachusetts based company. Features of the flying car include special tyres with ultra light qualities so as not to weigh down the aircraft, shatterproof panes made of poly-carbonate material which will replace heavy glass windows and contribute to the lighter weight of the car, and wings with a span of 27,5 foot that can be folded down when not in use and double folded to the car sides when in car-only mode.

Pros of flying cars:

  • No traffic jams
  • The user will gain experience as both a pilot and a driver in the same vehicle
  • A user can directly go to their destination without following a specific route
  • Time will be saved on longer car journeys

Cons of flying cars:

  • Pilots will require a runway for taking off the transitioned plane
  • Remote locations may not be safe for landing and are accessed more easily using a car
  • A huge amount of fuel would be required therefore fuel efficiency would be lost
  • Maintenance of the vehicle would be costly

Airbus is already the world’s largest producer of commercial helicopters, putting it in prime position to get into the potential new aviation segment. Airbus’s has said its concept for a CityAirbus vehicle, which passengers would walk to the nearest helipad to board, could become a future reality without too many regulatory changes.

Posted by Leana Kell on 20/01/2017