I doubt to find any fan of films like Back to the Future (1985) or Blade Runner (1982) who has not dreamed, since the 1980s, of the possibility of having a flying car. Not an air taxi, drone or cool helicopter, but a car, with a bold model and features, that optimizes urban mobility and brings a boost to cities that suffer from daily congestion on land. Well know that, if it depends on some optimistic projections of giants in the automobile and aviation sector, this dream may come true from 2022.
But let’s go by parts. The announcement about 2022 was made in September last year by the “Chinese Tesla”, Xpeng Motors, during the Beijing Motor Show, and would cover – at first – only the territory of China. The electric vehicle startup presented its development plan for a flying car in investment by the automaker with Alibaba, the Chinese giant in the field of online sales. However, according to details from a report by Estadão, as well as the flying vehicle prototype from Hyundai and Uber, the Xpeng model is nothing like a car, more like a small helicopter or giant drone. The unit has eight propellers and a capsule-shaped structure for up to two people.
The fact is that the race to develop the world’s first viable flying car is accelerating. By August 2020, there were 19 projects under development, which include players such as Airbus, Boeing and the German Volocopter – which plans the first tests for this year and the launch of a commercial version also in 2022.
It is estimated that, by 2040, this sector will be worth up to US $ 3 trillion
During CES 2021, the largest technology fair in the world, General Motors (GM) presented concepts for two electric vehicles: an autonomous “common” and a vertical take-off and landing vehicle (in the acronym, eVTOL) for one person, which they do part of the Cadillac Halo portfolio, but have no development forecast.
In Russia, according to Popular Mechanics magazine, Hoversurf (an urban air mobility company) started testing the Taxi Hover drone, a flying vehicle that can transport passengers and cargo, in the shape of a standard five-meter by 1.6-meter car. The vehicle can reach 150 meters of altitude, reach up to 200 km / h in speed and travel a distance of up to 100 kilometers at once.
Walk, drive, cycle or fly
In a long and recent report on the most promising flying car models, BBC News brings together some interesting industry analysts. For Volocopter’s vice president of public relations, Fabien Nestmann, every individual should have the option of walking, driving, cycling or flying.
“Volocopter hopes to win consumer confidence before making the transition to a full autonomy model: a wingless electric vehicle powered by nine batteries, which will transport passengers through a planned network of vertiports – airports for aircraft that take off and land vertically – in major cities. ”
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Takako Wada, representative of SkyDrive, guarantees that consumer demand has grown, “but humans have not yet offered a clear solution for traffic, even with options such as electric cars or fast alternatives like TGV (from the French“ train to grande vitesse ”, intercity train in France)”.
The enthusiasts of the flying modal are not tired of presenting its advantages, but caution is necessary when analyzing basic issues such as investment, cost to the user, air logistics involved (the “routes in the sky” would need to be managed to reconcile helicopters, drones, cars and planes , without forgetting the birds), as well as the necessary skills, something like a pilot’s license – which is not at all simple.