“Within the next few decades, autos will have folding wings that can be spread when on a straight stretch of road so that the machine can take to the air.”

Eddie Rickenbacker, in an article titled “Flying Autos in 20 Years“, Popular Science magazine, July 1924.

 

The future of personal transport

Bladerunner, Back to the Future, Star Wars, Futurama, The Fifth Element, the Jetsons – many popular movies and TV shows feature them, and we’ve been hearing it for decades: flying cars will be here soon!

There have been many dreams and prototypes, but what’s the latest on when you and me can expect to lift up off the road on our way to work for real?

The reality is that today, mid 2014, there is still no flying car available to the average person. There are some, however, that are scheduled to be produced in the next couple of years – we put together an overview for you:

 

Almost ready to take off

Parajet’s Skyrunner is basically an all-terrain buggy with a paraglider wing, made for adventure and fun rather than commuting (though its engineer says it’s road-legal too). It’s scheduled for release next year, and with $119,000 it looks like one of the cheaper options to combine driving and flying. Also due to its light build it sips its petrol and can reach a top speed of 115mph. Have a look at it in action:

 

Beyond Roads’ Maverick is based on a similar design. The website quotes its base price with $94,000 which is the most affordable on our list. It is rather slow with its top speed of 100mph on the road and 40mph in the air, but then it’s perfected for terrain driving rather than street use.

 

The Aeromobil completely transforms from a car to a plane in a few minutes, has an impressive 430mi range and only uses 4gph of petrol. There’s no way to fit it into your average garage due to its length, but it looks like a very comfortable flight:

 

The PAL-V ONE is expected to appear on the market within the next year or so as well. It’s basically a drivable helicopter on 3 wheels, making it very agile on the road. With an initial price of EUR 500,000 it will however take a while until this beauty becomes mainstream material.

 

The Terrafugia Transitionscheduled for release in 2016 targets mostly pilots. Similar to the Aeromobil and PAL-V ONE, it’s strictly speaking a roadable aircraft:

Terrafugia’s TF-X however is planned as a proper flying car, to be ready in about 10 years. It won’t just take off vertically but also do all the work for you; you just tell it where to go:

 

The Moller SkyCar has an impressive top speed of 331mph and is planned to be released in 2017. It will run on a variety of fuels and – similar to the TF-X – take off and land vertically, making it a lot more appealing to the average commuter.
Moller SkyCar

 

Other prototypes – with uncertain release dates – are:


Why is it taking so long?

What’s stopping flying cars from going mainstream:

  • Limited funding: Most manufacturers are still looking to receive more money before they can go into mass production
  • Legal issues, e.g. licensing road & air use (you’ll need both a pilot and driver’s license for most), as well as figuring out and implementing traffic rules
  • Practicality: most flying cars require take-off & landing strips which are not readily available on a busy street, many are quite a bit bigger than the average car which leads to problems for on-road use and parking
  • Costs: many people just cannot afford to pay $100,000 or more for a vehicle
  • Safety – as CylonGlitch via Reddit put it: “There are way too many people who can’t handle two dimensions, much less three.. Very scary thinking of some of these people above me.”

Over to you

We’d like to know: What do you make of flying cars? A dream (about to) come true, or a waste of resources? Do you think you’ll ever use one?

Let us know in the comments below!


Title image: “TF-X: Vertical Takeoff and Landing” by Terrafugia / cropped