Evolution of flying cars and urban air transportation from vision to current progress

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Any one hearing the word flying car can only think of science fiction movies portraying futuristic scientific and technological advancements humanity will experience in the near future or some cartoon series he or she was watching during childhood showing how personal transportation would be much more convenient  with personal or public flying cars . What differentiates this last decade from the years of the previous century in the historical progress of flying cars is that there were serious attempts made by individuals and start ups to make the first flying car for sale available to the market . This is what you’ re gonna explore in this blog article how the historical progress of the modern four wheels driving car is the same progress that is made for achieving the ultimate first flying car for sale .

 

1   Having personal flying vehicle  was the biggest goal of early inventors and pioneers  of  urban and air transportation

 

This is one big historical fact that is known to anyone who has a deep knowledge of the history of technology and well known speeches and writing of well known inventors and technology pioneers , let’s take just two well known inventors and technology pioneers who have predicted in the first years of the 20th century that the most efficient and ultimate means of urban transportation would be by personal and public flying cars with vertical take off capabilities . These two inventors who have predicted this were Thomas Edison and Henri Ford , The first one has stated that the ultimate and most efficient airplane design would be an airplane with vertical take off capabilities enabling the airplane to fly like a humming bird , vertical take off capability will be the unique technical feature required for urban air transportation , the same thing was expressed in Henri Ford famous saying that urban air transportation is the future of urban transportation , he said that during infancy of the automobile industry as if he has predicted that modern car design will reach its limits in urban transportation which is what we all currently witnessing during the last decades in increased urban air pollution , urban transport congestion and millions of hours wasted during commutes .

 

2 there were several serious attempts in the previous century to make a personal flying car ubiquitous means of transportation affordable to the majority

 

During these first years of the 20th century , there was a serious attempt of bridging the gap between road and air transportation in the early years of these two industries and the best attempt is glenn curtis roadable airplane constructed in 2017 from a dismantled aircraft that he turned into a model T , This prototype was abandoned and was not promising because it could fly only in short hops .

first flying cr design by glenn curtis

Specs

Engine power : 100 hp

The second notable attempt was Henri Ford Fliverr airplane , with no roadable feature , this airplane was designed  to be  affordable for the masses by having a light weight compact design for easy storage and easy simple controls . It was discontinued after the tragic death of Henri ford test pilot friend .

ford fliverr

The third notable attempt was made in 1931 by william b stout sky car prototype ,even though this car was designed to be sold at an average car price , it did not receive any significant market penetration because it was conceived much more like  an aircraft than a roadable car .

william-b-stout-sky-car

The fourth attempt made by Ford in 1962 , even a concept and not practical physical prototype , reflects the company commitment to pursue its founder vision to make urban air transportation a reality

ford-volante-concept
ford-volante-concept-2

The Convair Model 116 , This was the first practical working physical prototype with roadable and air flying features that withstand test of more than an hour flight time . A tragic accident caused by low fuel forced the car to crash , fortunately , the pilot has escaped with minor injuries

The Convair Model 116 , This was the first practical working physical prototype with roadable and air flying features that withstand test of more than an hour flight time . A tragic accident caused by low fuel forced the car to crash , fortunately , the pilot has escaped with minor injuries
convair model 116

Moulton Taylor Aero car

This practical physical prototype can be considered one of most ambitious attempts with clear vision of making a mass produced flying car affordable to the mainstream consumer , with six prototype models being built and successful test flights in 1949 . The fate of Moulton Tylor flying car hang in failing to receive 500 customer orders after receiving only half that number required by  Ling-Temco-Vought conglomerate with which Moulton Taylor has reached serial production deal .

moulton-taylor-aero-car

Specs :

Ground speed : 60 mph

Air speed : 100 mph

Detachable folding wings

The AVE Mizar by Advanced vehicle engineers 

This roadable flying car was designed and built by combining a Ford pinto and cessna sky master part consisting of the wings and rear part holding the engine . The Tragic death during a test flight of the company founder and AVE Mizar designer was also the death of this promising flying car .

AVE-Mizar-1973

3 Urban transportation by cars and other ordinary public transportation have reached their limit

 

The Observer of the historical  technological progress of earlier flying cars prototypes will see all these attempts were made by American inventors in the united states with no single attempt being made in another country . The seventies will mark the end of serious attempts of producing a practical mass produced flying for the masses with a single exception of an attempt made by former Boeing engineer Fred Baker who founded Flight innovations inc and began the development of the sky commuter which was designed as a small duct fans-based VTOL compact aircraft .

fred baker sky commuter
fred baker sky commuter pic 3
fred baker sky commuter pic 2

With only three prototypes made in the late eighties , no single test was released to the public and the remaining prototype was sold on ebay at 86£

Specs :

Length : 14 foot  ( 4.3 m)        Number of passengers : 2

Materials : composite materials

Before moving the serious attempts of mass manufacturing a flying that have been made in the 21st century . The last decades of the 20th century saw the development of one of the most controversial inventions or flying car concepts which was the Moller M400 sky car . This is one of the most controversial attempts in the history of bringing a practical affordable flying car to the market because the prototype developer Paul Muller has spent more than 40 years since the late 60s and nearly 100 M$ for just making a tethered flight test in 2003 and the only problem that was facing his company was funding and not technical problems in the prototype

muller m400 skycar
Xplorair_PX200_scale_model

The dream refuses to dye until the early years of the 21 century , with the first attempt being made in 2002 this time outside of the united states by French Aeronautical engineer Michel Anguilar , with no practical prototype having been built , the concept flying car in question called Xplorair PX200 was just a project and concept under development with generous funding received from various government entities .The main technical feature of this concept flying car is the use of an array of small jet engines called theroreactors embedded within tiltwings’ body .

The second attempt in the 21th century was the by founding of the Boston-based company called terrafugia in 2006, this company began its early years by TF-X Concept Vehicle

TF-X Concept Vehicle

terrafugia tfx 2

This concept design has contributed greatly in spotting the light on this Boston based start up but its significant and considerable move was with the introduction of its proof of concept of the Terrafugia transition , the famous roadable folding wing aircraft , if we make a review between this 2009 designed flying car and 1973 moulton Taylor sky car , we can say that the latter was more advanced 40 years ago than the terrafugia transition in one simple advanced design feature which is the detachable folding wings .

moulton taylor aero car pic2
terrafugia transition pic1

This practical design feature would make the car more compact and lightweight when driving on the roads without having to carry the detachable wings . The Moulton Taylor sky car was not able to enter the mass manufacturing phase unlike the Terrafugia transition which was available since 2018 for pre order on the company website at 270 000 $

 

Click to visit the ordering page on the company website

samson switch blade

Another notable attempt in the first ten years of the 21th century , still under development , was the samson switchblade roadable flying car . Introduced in 2009 as a mock up , During its 10 years of research and development , no full scale practical prototype was tested and only 1/4 scale has flown in 2012 . For those interested in following the the progress of this flying car or even interested in having one in the future , The company website has reserving page for those interested in owning samson switch blade at 95 000 $ .

samson switch blade
samson switch blade

pal v

One of the earliest attempts in achieving the perfect flying car design prototype in the early 20th century was made by the dutch company pal v in 2001 with the first prototype test being made in 2012 . The notable distinguishable design feature in this flying car is its design to fly as autogyro in flight mode instead of fixed wings in all flying cars concepts or prototypes .

For those interested in in owning or purchasing a pal v flying , the company website has an ordering page .Click to visit the ordering page on the company website

3 Urban transportation by cars and other ordinary public transportation have reached their limit

road-congestion

During the last and the middle years of the 20th century , the car industry was living its golden age with massive urbanisation taking place in big cities in both the developing and developed worlds and no one was concerned about urban air pollution , road congestion and long commute hours until cities have reached a size where car usage has reached its limit and was not seen any more as the best and most reliable solution . The first solution to address this problem of the limitations of gasoline cars was the adoption of electric cars using lithium ion batteries , which will have the biggest impact on the future of flying cars and urban air transportation . The first company that began the development of electric cars using lithium ion batteries was tesla roadster in 2004 with its first released car to the market in 2008 which was the year where two other start up companies were founded for addressing humanity number 1 biggest problem : urban transportation , the two start up companies were uber and lyft with their technological solution concentrating on ride sharing and making car transportation within the reach of any member of their service without having to own a proper car . As for the last and third technological solution , it was in the form of portable personal battery powered transport equipment like electric scooters and segway hoverboard .

Lithium ion battery technology was the missing peace of the puzzle in the development of the  future flying car or the ultimate urban air transportation solution . During it early years of adoption in the car industry , it was only used on high end expensive sports cars like the tesla roadster before being mass produced for mainstream cars like tesla model S nissan leaf and other electric car companies . The Progress made in enhancing lithium ion battery technology has reduced its price and increased its energy density , the first company that profited from this opportunity in the aviation industry was pipstrel , a Slovenian training aircraft production company , the first test prototype , the pipistrel whatsup , made its first flight on 12 august 2014 .

pipistrel alpha electro

pipistrel alpha electro

Specs :

Maximum speed : 194km/h

Range : 150 km

Endurance : 1.5 hours

For those interested in owning or using the pipistrel alpha electro (the electric version of the two seat trainer aircraft ) the company website has an ordering page for the ose interested . Click to visit the ordering page on the company website

pipistrel ordering page

It should be also noted that this Slovenian company that has produced the first electric lithium powered trainer aircraft is also working on the development of a VTOL aircraft for public urban transportation and its design concept was one of the five companies chosen by uber in uber elevate summit  2019 that was organised for showcasing Uber’s plan to launch flying taxi demonstrations in 2020 and commercial trips by 2023

Pipistrel evtol concept

Pipistrel-evtol-concept
pipistrel-vtol-uber-summit
4 the last ten years has witnessed remarkable progress in achieving the perfect design prototype of a flying car that will solve the problem of urban transportation

This progress was detonated and sparked by the pipistrel evtol aircraft or the alpha electro electric trainer aircraft . The simple clear proof that the pipistrel alpha electro has played the domino effect that has resulted in the biggest progress humanity has ever seen towards achieving the best urban air transportation system and flying car prototype was the development of several concepts and physical prototypes of urban air transportation solutions just in 2015 after a year of the introduction of the pipistrel alpha electro in 2014  , the best notable examples are the following :

This Chinese quadcopter drone has appeared to the public for the first time in 2016 when the designing and manufacturing company located in Guangzhou announced in January 2016 new drones capable of carrying passengers , a year after , the company announced its plans to launch an autonomous flying taxi service in dubai in the summer of 2017 , since that announcement , no flying taxi service was seen . Three years later , the company announced its second and latest  iteration called ehang 216 , a two-seater with 16 propellers , having made over 1000 manned flights by july 2018, it can fly 25 minutes for a range of 30-40 km .

Ehang184
ehang 216
ehang 216
ehang 216

Eviation Alice (2015 : company founding – 2019 : first physical prototype )

Designed to disrupt the regional air transportation by providing the lowest payed fee , even lower than inter cities bus fee , The eviation Alice is the second true ground breaking event in the history of the civilian aviation industry in 2019 (in addition to lilium jet) after the pipistrel alpha electro electric trainer aircraft . The most remarkable technical features adopted in the eviation alice are low noise and less than half of the cost of operating an economic piston aircraft .

Specs

Crew : 2               Cpacity : 9 passengers

Lenghth : 12.2 m      Wingspan : 16.12 m

Maximum tafeoff weight : 6350  kg     Cruise speed : 482km/h

Range : 1042 km

Eviation Alice

Volocopter VC200 version ( 2011 company founded - 2016 first manned flight)

Though not designed as a flying car with roadable capabilities , the vision and mission behind its development by the German inventor Alexander Zosel is serving as air taxi . Founded in 2011 ,making the first manned flight in 2016 , the company is planning to deploy  the volocopter VC200 as a flying air taxi in Dubai and Singapore after it has entered serial production in April 2018 and will be built under contract by the german sailplane manufacture DG Flugzeugbau .

Volocopter VC200 deployed as Flying air Taxi

volocopter

Lilium jet ( 2015 founding of the company - 2019 first flight of the full scale 5 seat prototype )

As one of the latest evtol urban air transport aircrafts designed for addressing the problem city mobility  , this design solution is bridging the gap between road and city as well as the between previously cited solutions like ehang 212 , volocopter VC200 and electric fixed wing aircrafts like eviation alice and pipistrel alpha electro . Having just achieved the milestone of conducting a test flight on a full scale 5 seat prototype in the summer of 2019 , the lilium jet will be available as a public service of urban air transport in 2025

Lilium jet
Lilium_eVTOL-Jet
Lilium_eVTOL

Kitty hawk Flyer and cora prototypes (2017 first test prototype unveiled to the public)

kitty-hawk-flyer

With no strong vision or clear objective but with generous financial backing by google co-founder Larry page who has brought former computer scientist Sebastian thrun as CEO , The kitty hawk company has unveiled its first flight test prototype , the Flyer in 2017 a day prior to uber elevate summit .

Kitty hawk cora

The second and third project developed by the company were two fixed wing electric VTOl aircrafts : the kitty hawk heavy side and kitty hawk cora , the first one adopting tilting electric rotors and the second one , the kitty hawk cora , using 12 vertical electric rotors for vertical take off and horizontal electric rotor mounted on the rear .

Kitty hawk cora
kitty hawk cora

Kitty hawk heavyside

kitty-hawk-heayside
kitty-hawk-heayside

Joby aviation

With only a concept project and no physical test prototype , this company has managed to raise nearly 130 million $ , which is unprecedented in the history of the development of a mass produced flying car for sale which has seen many individuals and companies struggling financially after building a physical prototype.

Aero mobil roadable flying car with folding fixed wings

The last notable personal flying car developed during the last ten years and which was not influenced by the pipistrel alpha electro electric trainer aircraft , this personal flying car for sale is the aero mobil version 3 , introduced and unveiled to the public in october 2014 in vienna festival ,its design features are not caracterizing a personal flying for a broad consumer base but only for wealthy individuals who have a disposable income of 1.2 to 1.6 million $ to spend on aero mobil flying car , for those interested in owning one , the company web site has an ordering page .

The last notable personal flying car developed during the last ten years and which was not influenced by the pipistrel alpha electro electric trainer aircraft , this personal flying car for sale is the aero mobil version 3 , introduced and unveiled to the public in october 2014 in vienna festival ,its design features are not caracterizing a personal flying for a broad consumer base but only for wealthy individuals who have a disposable income of 1.2 to 1.6 million $ to spend on aero mobil flying car , for those interested in owning one , the company web site has an ordering page

Aero mobil 3.0 inflight mode

The last notable personal flying car developed during the last ten years and which was not influenced by the pipistrel alpha electro electric trainer aircraft , this personal flying car for sale is the aero mobil version 3 , introduced and unveiled to the public in october 2014 in vienna festival ,its design features are not caracterizing a personal flying for a broad consumer base but only for wealthy individuals who have a disposable income of 1.2 to 1.6 million $ to spend on aero mobil flying car , for those interested in owning one , the company web site has an ordering page .

Click to visit the ordering page on the company website

Click to visit the ordering page on the company website

Aero mobil 4.4

This prototype has been damaged after an accident on 8 may 2015 , just a year after its introduction , the test pilot seat has been ejected when the flying car entered a spin , he was transported to the hospital and suffered from back pain , as for the aero mobil 3.0 , it has received impact damage to the forward fuselage . The company since then , has indicated that it will continue the design , but in 2017 , they have announce the introduction of a new model of flying car for sale called areo mobil 4.0 .

aero mobil 4.0

The aero mobil 4.0 , still in concept phase , is the current planned model for production that will take place in 2020 , for those interested in being the first to experience the riding experience of a roadable flying car , the ordering page on the company web site is waiting for them .

aero-mobil-4.0

aero mobil 5.0

aero mobil 5.0

As for the company future projects , their newly announced flying car for sale called the aero mobil 5.0 , this new iteration is totally different from the two previous versions , in being their  first flying car with vtol capabilities and electric battery powered instead the piston engine models .

aero mobil 5.0

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