The Future Is Here: Flying Car “AirCar” Completes Test Flight and Drive
KleinVision's AirCar is the stuff of science fiction dreams.
Let’s be real: the “future” we’re living in is kind of disappointing. Yes, we’ve made enormous leaps in science and technology and medicine, but it’s a far cry from the fantasy future that science fiction books and films promised us. We’re 6 years out from the 2015 seen in Back to the Future II, and our clothes don’t automatically dry on our bodies, our sneakers don’t tie themselves, and this is our sorry excuse for a hoverboard:
There’s also this Green Goblin-inspired SkySurfer, but it’s only a prototype. Humanity still hasn’t achieved the true symbol of the future: a flying car.
But that may be changing, thanks to Slovakian company Klein Vision, whose AirCar completed a successful 35-minute flight, landed and then drove home. The AirCar is the brainchild of Professor Stefan Klein, who piloted the car on its inaugural flight from Slovakian airports in Nitra and Bratislava. The hybrid car-aircraft runs on a 160 horsepower BMW engine, sports a fixed propellor, and takes petrol, not plutonium. It’s also equipped with a ballistic parachute in case of emergencies.
Klein told reporters that the AirCar could fly about 1,000km (600 miles), at a height of 8,200ft (2,500m), and has already logged 40 hours in the air. In addition to, you know, FLYING, the AirCar automatically converts to a road safe vehicle by folding in its wings into the body of the car. The transformation takes only 2 minutes and 15 seconds before the vehicle is ready to drive. Dr. Stephen Wright, senior research fellow in avionics and aircraft, at the University of the West of England, described the AirCar as “the lovechild of a Bugatti Veyron and a Cesna 172”.
Klein Vision said that the prototype took two years to develop and cost “less than 2m euros” (£1.7m). The prototype is very impressive, but of course we are still years away from picking up an AirCar at CarMax. Between rigorous safety testing, government regulation, and air traffic logistics, there is still much work to be done.
Dr. Wright added, “I have to admit that this looks really cool – but I’ve got a hundred questions about certification … Anyone can make an aeroplane but the trick is making one that flies and flies and flies for the thick end of a million hours, with a person on board, without having an incident. I can’t wait to see the piece of paper that says this is safe to fly and safe to sell.”
In the meantime, Klein Vision is working on AirCar Prototype 2, which will sport a 300 horsepower engine. They are also developing 3 and 4-seater models, in addition to amphibious versions for water landings. And while competing car companies are developing their own flying car prototypes, vehicles like the AirCar will likely remain the domain of the very wealthy for quite some time.
(via BBC, image: screencap/Klein Vision)
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