Finally, the concept of Flying -Car is turning into a reality with the first successful flight of an AirCar made by the BMW company powered by 160 Horsepower BMW Engine. Humankind seems to be standing at the brink of monumental new development, all set to welcome flying cars!! Technology and innovation are determined to revolutionize the way we drive (or should we say, fly?) and it is already happening!
You must have heard several cases of pilots landing flights on highways due to emergencies or misjudgments and thought it was bizarre or dangerous! Well, be prepared to change your mind about that because very soon the boundaries between cars and aircraft only seem to be getting hazier!
On Monday, 28th June witnessed the first-ever test flight of the KleinVision AirCar 1. The first of its kind built by Slovakian company KleinVision, completed a 35-minute test-flight between two international airports of the country, starting from the city of Nitra and landing in the capital Bratislava, revealed the press release on Wednesday.
The two-in-one vehicle runs on a 160 horsepower BMW engine and comes equipped with a fixed propeller. Running on regular petrol fuel, the automobile can fold its wings and be driven like a normal car. It can carry two people with a combined weight of 200 kg and takes an impressive 2 minutes 15 seconds for the entire transition to be complete.
Creator Stefan Klein says that the Car can travel a distance of 620 miles (1000 km) at a height of 8200 ft (2500 meters). It has now completed more than 40 hours of test flights, as perto Klein Vision, including flying at 8,200 feet and reaching a maximum cruising speed of 190 kilometers per hour (118 miles per hour).
The video showed the vehicle, flying smoothly with effortless manoeuvers. It then approaches the landing strip in Bratislava with its rear wheels making contact with the ground first. Subsequently, the wings are seen to wind up followed by the tail contracting to facilitate a jaw-droppingly seamless transition from aircraft to a swanky sports car. It was then driven into the city center by Klein Vision CEO Stefan Klein and company co-founder Anton Zajac.
“AirCar is no longer just a proof of concept,” Zajac said in the press release. “It opens a new category of transportation and returns the freedom originally attributed to cars back to the individual,” said Klein. With the release of the video on YouTube and other social media, astonished viewers lauded the creators and wished them luck.
The company is working on a model called AirCar Prototype 2, which will boast a 300 horsepower engine. It is expected to be able to cruise at 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour) and have a range of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles). Klein Vision plans to develop three- and four-seater models of the AirCar, as well as twin-engine and amphibious versions, according to its website.
Fascinating as it may be, this is not the first-time-ever milestone. In October last year, PAL-V, the Dutch company known for manufacturing flying cars, announced that its creation- Liberty, has been approved for road usage in Europe, thus making it the world’s first commercial flying car. It finally passed the European Road Admission Test with flying colours after a rigorous and extensive drive test program carried out on test tracks since February 2020 which included high-speed ovals, brake and noise pollution testing.
In fact, The Dutch company has also signed an MOU with the state of Gujarat to establish its plant here and production is likely to commence from 2021. Production models will reportedly be exported to several European countries from the state.
Liberty commercial flying car starts with an entry-level price tag of $399,000 (around Rs. 2.52 crore) excluding taxes. The two-seater PAL-V Liberty is powered by dual engines, offers self-stabilization and curve stabilization. In drive mode, it has a maximum speed of 160 kmph and has a claimed range of 1,315 kilometers. In-flight mode, it can reach a maximum speed of 180 kmph and has a range of 500 kilometers.
With such huge bucks involved in the business, more and more existing players are investing in what seems to be, the future of automobiles. Companies that have publicly shown interest and spoken about their plans to venture into the same include Uber and Hyundai which unveiled plans for an electric flying taxi at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
As per an article by CNN, Volkswagen said in February that it is looking into flying vehicles in China. Meanwhile, Porsche, Daimler, and Toyota have all backed startups in what is known as the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) industry. In August 2020, Japanese company Sky Drive Inc. conducted Japan’s first public demonstration of a flying vehicle. The car took off from Toyota Test Field and circled for around four minutes.
This ground-breaking innovation has turned science fiction into a reality while also being on the receiving end of doubts and questions. Beyond its novelty and technological mastery, it raises very pertinent questions about road safety and a regulatory framework that secures the safety of both owners and fellow drivers (AND fliers!), all of which will take years to formulate.
But whatever be the conclusion on that, with an estimated value of $1.5 trillion by 2040, this new era of dual transportation vehicles, surely seems inevitable.