The thought of flying cars is a fascination. Any of you remember the movie “Back to the Future,” many years ago that portrayed the flying automobile that time-traveled to the past or future. The thought of flying cars once relegated to the confines of Sci-Fydom is now fast becoming a reality as several companies are frantically researching and building prototypes of hovering autos for the masses. It is a thrill to watch as this reality evolves before our eyes.
“Mark my word: A combination airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile, but it will come.” — Henry Ford, 1940
In 1940, American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford, declared that “a combination of the airplane and motorcar” was on the horizon. Almost six decades later, there’s a genuine feeling that Ford’s declaration is finally about to become a reality. This familiar feature of Sci-Fi and Fantasy movies, flying cars, or hover cars as they are also known, have always been depicted as the next frontier in the automobile industry.
A flying car could be daubed as a couple of things. It could be a futuristic hybrid vehicle that can travel short to long distances in the air but often retains the capacity to function as a means of transportation on the road. In the most recent times, the flying car is, as the name implies—a flying car—capable of traveling short or long distances solely by air without needing to retain the capacity of functioning as an on the road vehicle.
In a world where overpopulation consistently makes road transportation a hassle, with many cities severely burdened by traffic congestion, flying cars could be a much-needed alternative to cars on the road. The dream of flying has been plagued by various variations such as financial constraints, regulatory restrictions, technological infrastructure limitations, etc. However, with current and future advancements in technology, this dream is fast becoming a reality.
Despite some of the challenges mentioned above, a few companies are actively seeking to manufacture flying cars suitable for commercial use, and that would subsequently be made affordable for individual ownership. The level of optimism being shown by these companies and some of the predictions coming from industry observers means there is enough reason to believe in some future where flying cars are a part of urban life.
“I’d like to have the flying car; I think that’d be really cool.” — Rupert Grint.
The companies covered in this listicle are not the only companies in the race to build flying cars. Other companies have joined this innovative race of researching and manufacturing their own brands of flying cars, and we will mention some of them at the end of this listicle. However, to satisfy our budding interest in this topic, let us look at some of the leading companies currently pushing the flying car agenda.
Founded in March 2009 as a peer-to-peer ride-sharing service, Uber is currently the leading vehicular transportation network globally. However, the company isn’t resting on its oars as it intends to partner with other automobile companies as a part of its aerial ridesharing Elevate Project. UberAir system is optimistic that its vision to take to the skies will be a story of success. The organization has set an ambitious target of 2023 for itself to actualize this dream. To learn more about Uber’s plans, check out Uber Elevate.
One of the world’s foremost drone manufacturers, the Chinese company, EHang, is in the final phase of launching its Uber-like air transport taxi system. The battery-powered single-passenger drone prototype known as EHang 184 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) has been used in over 40 test flights. Here are some more facts from the company news:
- 2017: EHang received the AS9100C Certification, a quality management system widely adopted and standardized by the international aerospace industry. The company’s AAV received the Special Flight Permit for civil aerial vehicles issued by CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China).
- 08/20/2019: EHang Achieves World’s First Certificate of Unmanned Aircraft System Safety for AAVs.
- 03/05/2020: EHang 216 Obtained Operational Flight Permit from Civil Aviation Authority of Norway.
- 03/18/2020: EHang Partners with Llíria of Spain to Expand UAM Pilot City Initiative in Europe.
- 07/29/2020: EHang 216 Obtained Special Flight Operations Certificate from Transport Canada Civil Aviation.
- 11/12/2020: EHang 216 AAV Made Its Debut in Seoul After Obtaining a Special Certificate of Airworthiness from Korea.
- 12/14/2020: EHang 216 Receives Long-term Trial Flight Permit across Austria National Airspace.
It will only be a matter of time, and we will see these beauties in the air—a fascination that will tickle our admiration fancy. Their dream is already fast becoming a reality, as we see in the facts presented above. EHang is already partnering with nations and organizations such as DHL-Sinotrans, Azerbaijan Airlines, Vodafone, to mention but a few. To learn more about this AAV, check out the EHang.
#3. Airbus Group
Traditionally known for designing and producing high-tech aircraft, Airbus unveiled plans for its flying car prototype in 2016 via its Silicon Valley-based affiliate company, A3. The innovative idea, which is part of Airbus’ larger Project Vahana program, is meant to be a single-passenger self-piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that will be ready for use by the end of 2022. To learn more about what Airbus is doing via its affiliate company A3, visit Airbus.
Founded in 2006, Terrafugia is an American company whose two-passenger flying car prototype can travel at an estimated impressive range of 400 miles in the air. The prototype aptly named Transition is an autonomous flying car that can also be driven manually. After being taken over by the Chinese automotive company Zhejiang Geely, Terrafugia announced earlier this year that an improved version of its Transition prototype is set to be delivered in 2019 and ready for commercial use by 2025. To learn more, check out Terrafugia.
AeroMobil is a flexible flying car prototype that can be converted from an automobile to an aircraft. Manufactured by the Slovakian company, AeroMobil, the two-passenger teardrop shape aerodynamic vehicle was initially designed for lovers of high-end luxury cars and flight enthusiasts. Its latest model was the AeroMobil 4.0 VTOL which was exhibited in 2017. Its commercial launch is slated for early 2023. A version of the previous prototype, version 3.0, is currently available for order on the company’s website. AeroMobil 5.0 is slated to debut in 2025. To learn more, check out AeroMobil.
“We could definitely make a flying car—but that’s not the hard part. The hard part is, how do you make a flying car that’s super safe and quiet?” — Elon Musk
Other notable mentions of companies building flying cars are as follows: The BlackFly was developed by a Silicon Valley via Canada company called Opener. Another is Kitty Hawk. Another is Volocopter 2X by Volocopter. Another is the Z Aero Flying car by Google. Who knows which other company will join the race for individualized commercial flight? Time will tell.
Man has always been fascinated by flight, and whatever he sets his mind on, he eventually accomplishes. The Wright Brothers worked on flight, and today we have airplanes. Today, man has set his eyes on space, and today you have Virgin Galactic, Space X, Blue Origin, etc., pushing the envelope to make it happen with their sight on Outer Space—who knows, tomorrow we may be living on the moon or Mars. Today, we are talking about Flying Cars—and the above companies and more to soon join the race are pushing to make it a reality. It will be only a matter of time, and the skies will be dotted by zipping flying and hovering cars. So, if the idea of flying vehicles is something that excites you, your dreams might be coming true within the next decade. The future is indeed exciting—the time of the Jetson’s is now.
Get Ready to Fly—The Flying Cars are Coming!