We’re much closer to meeting flying cars on a day-to-day basis than most people would think. According to a Bosch expert, the technological know-how needed to manufacture such vehicles is already available today. And in four or five years, there is a good chance that flying taxis will be part of everyday life in some big cities.
But how did you get to the point where flying cars known from the fantasy world of sci-fi movies could not only be the vehicles of imaginary superheroes, but could become part of everyday life within years? There is no doubt that since the existence of airplanes and cars, much of humanity has dreamed of once making cars and flying over houses. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as early as the early twentieth century, in the early years of aviation and car manufacturing, attempts were made to build vehicles that would have been able to travel both on the road and in the air.
The first such plans, now smiling, date back to 1917, when the Curtiss Autoplane built a flying car prototype. In the rear of the aluminum vehicle was a hundred-horsepower gasoline engine that was able to turn the rear wheels as well as the propeller, also located at the rear. However, the astonishing-looking vehicle was really good for nothing, as it was not practical to use either on the road or in the air.
After that, in the thirties and forties, several people tried to build a flying car, but none of the plans reached series production. We can also say about these machines that they were not really suitable for anything and they even cost a lot. One of these was a strange structure called the Waterman Arrowbile, completed in 1937.
The Airphibian, completed in 1946, was a much more advanced vehicle than its predecessors, but it can also be called a rolling small aircraft rather than a flying car. Perhaps one degree closer to the flying car was the 1947 ConvAirCar-116 (and its successor, the 118), which was able to ascend with a body-mounted dragon structure, and a separate innovation was used for flight and road transport as a major innovation. ConvAirCar’s initially promising career ended with a prototype crash on one of its test drives.
The Taylor Aerocar, marketed since 1956 and sold in a total of six copies, was perhaps the most successful attempt among flying cars during this period, of which there is still a workable piece. The plane had detachable and foldable wings that could be converted from an airplane to a car, or vice versa, from a car to an airplane in five minutes.
Of course, these experiments were still very far from being covered by amphibious vehicles that can be used by the average person, and at the same time we are now very close to making this happen, as in 2017, Dubai already carried out successful tests. an unmanned, self-driving eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft), followed by successful flights with several flying car prototypes in the United States and Germany, among others.
In addition, companies with a long history, such as Audi, Volvo, Airbus or Boeing, and, of course, Bosch are doing research in this area.
Developed by Audi and Airbus, Pop.Up Next is one of the vehicles that can revolutionize traffic. The machine is self-driving, so passengers traveling with the vehicle do not need to be able to drive an airplane in order to use it. An interesting feature of Pop.Up Next is that the two-seater cab can be connected to a car chassis, depending on the operating mode, or to a flightable.
The other attempt is in the name of Terrafugia, which was acquired by Volvo’s majority owner, China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. The company also wants to launch two flying cars: previous plans say it will start selling Transition this year and TF-X in 2023. The Transition is equipped with retractable wings, requires a runway to take off, while the TF-X is able to take off from the ground.
In addition to large companies, several startups are working on their own prototypes. Perhaps one of the best known of these companies is AeroMobil in Slovakia. The machine they manufactured transformed from car to airplane mode in three minutes and, like the Terrafugia, was fitted with retractable wings.
The high competition is also indicated by the fact that nearly $ 1 billion has flowed into this area worldwide since 2017, so manufacturers are serious about building flying cars. According to a Bosch expert, we don’t have to wait long to travel by flying taxi. According to Marcus Parentis, we will encounter these vehicles sooner in everyday life than self-driving cars that do not require human intervention.
This is how an air taxi works
The current idea is for electric vehicles to be able to take off and land at a height of four hundred meters, and although someone will still have to sit behind the steering wheel – or joystick – it is likely that the autopilot will be able to control the machine in most traffic situations.
What’s more, we shouldn’t be afraid that they will be incredibly expensive vehicles and only the richest will be able to afford to use them. Similar to self-driving cars, it is planned that these vehicles can be rented for one trip at a time, so they will essentially operate as air taxis, and you will not have to pay orders of magnitude more for them than for traditional rental cars.
And what does Bosch add to all this? With the development of our company, the universal control unit will be an essential accessory for flying cars. The efficiency of the device lies in the fact that it fits in a much smaller space than usual, as well as combines microelectromechanical systems. With the help of dozens of sensors, the position of flying taxis can be monitored and controlled at any time. According to Marcus Parentis, all this is important because traditional aviation technology is too expensive, large and heavy to use in self-propelled flying taxis. So another stage of development may require Bosch technology, which has already been proven in the first tests!