AeroMobil revealed its final commercial design for its flying car model at the Top Marques supercar show in Monaco, at a time when other companies such as Uber and Zee have also announced their intentions to make flying cars a reality.
AeroMobil is currently accepting pre-orders for its flying car model, but it won’t come cheap.
AeroMobil CEO Juraj Vaculik has stated that they will cost between €1.2 million and €1.5 million (about $1.7 million Australian).
Because of the steep price, AeroMobil is only producing 500 units to begin with, to be available to consumers by the year 2020.
The subject of flying cars has long been the subject of science fiction, but things are never as easy as they are in the movies.
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) April 20, 2017
How does AeroMobil’s flying car work?
The AeroMobil car (or plane) looks extremely impressive, and it can transform from car mode to air mode in under 3 minutes.
The car’s body is made from high-strength, lightweight carbon fibre, using wings to fly instead of taking off vertically like a helicopter.
Behind the passenger cell (the car is a two-seater) is a 300hp (223kW), turbocharged, 2.0L, four-cylinder engine that drives a variable pitch pusher-propeller in flight.
This same engine acts as a generator while in car mode, so it is essentially a hybrid model.
According to AeroMobil’s Chief Technical Officer Douglas McAndrew, the car has a top speed of 160km/hour, and can drive for approximately 700km before needing to be refuelled.
In flight mode, however, it can reach a massive top speed of 360km/hour while in the air, and can fly uninterrupted for 750km.
“Aircraft engines are designed to develop peak power whenever the pilot wants it, reliably, but road cars need a wider powerband with more stringent pollution controls,” McAndrews said.
“So hybridisation solves the problem of having to build an engine that meets both those use cases.
“But it’s not packed full of batteries like a Volt or Prius, and you don’t plug it in to charge it.”
AeroMobil has also placed a great deal of emphasis on safety over speed.
The vehicle has plenty of safety features – there is a parachute for emergency landings, and there are separate airbags for both terrestrial and airborne crashes.
How can you get an AeroMobil flying car?
If you grew up watching the Jetsons and are willing to overcome the rather significant price tag to fly around the city like them, then you should know that there is a bit more to do than just turning up and buying one.
The future is here: First flying car hits the market pic.twitter.com/YnMBFplgm4
— USA TODAY Video (@usatodayvideo) April 20, 2017
First of all, you will need a pilot’s license to fly one, since it is essentially a small plane at this stage of development. Along with a pilot’s license, you’ll also need access to a runway, since it can’t take off vertically like a helicopter.
Unfortunately, another stumbling block to buying a flying car is that it will initially only be available in Europe. McAndrew says that AeroMobil also plans to expand to the USA once it gains a clearance to do so, and the company will also look to introduce it in China as well.
As yet, no information has been released regarding AeroMobil’s plans to expand to Australia, so you might have to wait until after the initial release to get your hands on one.
Elon Musk: ‘Flying cars are not a sustainable solution’
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk publicly stated back in February that flying cars are not the answer to our traffic and roadway concerns.
Musk believes that flying car models such as AeroMobil are a dangerous and ineffective way to transform roadways.
“Obviously, I like flying things. But it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution,” Musk told Bloomberg.
He explained that flying cars need “considerable downward force” to keep them flying, which generates a lot of noise and wind. Flying cars will also raise the risk of debris falling from the sky.
“If somebody doesn’t maintain their flying car, it could drop a hubcap and guillotine you,” Musk said.
“Your anxiety level will not decrease as a result of things that weigh a lot buzzing around your head.”
Flying car pros: travel in 3D fast. Cons: risk of car falling on head much greater, noisy, grounded in bad weather
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2015
The technology is there for flying cars, but their existence raises a host of questions, such as how to control air traffic with all those vehicles zipping across the sky.