There has been a lot of buzz in the auto manufacturing industry as technology advances and most auto makers are now producing autonomous, self-driving, cars. There is, however, a type of vehicle currently in the works that would put a driver-less car to shame, and could signal the wave of the future. I'm referring to flying cars. In fact, there are multiple versions created by different companies already well in the works.
Although the styles vary, these flying cars are just about as close to science fiction as you can imagine. One such aerodynamic beast in the works is the Aeromobil, a prototype designed by British engineering specialist, Prodrive. This petrol-fueled vehicle tops out on the ground at speeds of no more than 99mph, but can move as quickly as 223mph when in the air. The Aeromobil also requires a runway to take off, making it impractical for those who don't have an airstrip in their backyard. It is important to note that all drivers would be required to hold a pilot's license in addition to a driver's license to legally operate this futuristic vessel. Prodrive, is already taking orders and plans to sell this vehicle/airplane hybrid as a limited release in the next couple years. Don't expect something like this to be cheap of course, so the days of avoiding commuter traffic by quite literally flying above it are still in the distant future.
Earlier this year, in Germany, an electric flying car made its maiden test flight, and currently Japanese engineers are struggling to perfect a prototype that can be used to light the flame at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Also in process are more unique and affordable alternatives to the top-of-the-line hybrids, such as a motorcycle that can convert to a gyrocopter in a mere 10 seconds.
A sub-project of AirBus is also throwing their hat into the ring to get the first car publicly airborne with a passenger model designed to operate similarly to a taxi. Airbus is currently the world's largest manufacturer of commercial helicopters and they have chosen to pursue a design more closely aligned with a helicopter-style vessel. The project, headed by Rodin Lyasoff, is called Urban Air Mobility and is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
Other more well-known companies stateside are also interested in airborne vehicle technology. Start-up company, Cartivator, was given a boost when Toyota invested a significant sum of money earlier this year in an effort to fully launch the “Skydrive” project. The “Skydrive” vehicles measure about 9ft by 4ft and with the use of drone tech, can fly nearly 33 feet up in the air. These flying cars should be ready for manned testing come early 2018, and it is likely that this very company will provide the vessel to light the Olympic torch.