Conceptual Design of a Future VOTL Flying Car

A Few Years Back, It Was Just a Fantasy!

Remember the flying car driven by Ron Weasley in the “Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secret” film (2002)?. The film shows a 1962 Ford Angila car model flying magically. We guess that you also wanted to drive such a car for sure! 

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A scene from the 2002 movie, “Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secret”

Many directors use this futuristic and magical concept for their movies. Flying cars have been added to fiction movies since about 1961. The film “The Absent Minded Professor”, which was screened at that time, used a flying car for the first time ever in the movie industry. Since there were no real flying cars, the visual effects showed that a normal car was flying. 

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A scene from the 1915 Model T flying, from “The Absent Minded Professor”
Photo courtesy: AVweb.com

Many decades have passed and that fiction has already become a reality today!  This article is about the successful journey of flying cars, which was just a fantasy in history and wll be a major part of the future transportation . Analysts predict the use of flying cars will be a popular mode of transport in the near future.

History of Flying Cars

The history of flying car production goes far beyond that of film-making. A flying car was first created by an American named Waldo Waterman. It was while he was in higher education that he designed his first light aircraft. That was in 1909. Even though it was called a  light aircraft, it was actually a glider. He continued to strive to create an airplane; the “Whatsit” was created in 1929 as a result. What made this aircraft so special was that he designed it without the long tail section like normal airplanes at that time. His argument was that a tail was not essential to an aircraft. This concept inspired him to design a flying car.

In 1937, he designed the “Arrowbile”, a car capable of running like a normal car on the road and flying like an airplane in the sky. Anyway this car did not have the ability to fly at any time the driver/pilot wished to fly. This was because the long wings of Arrowbile needed to be mounted separately before taking off. At that time, there was no technology to spread the wings automatically.

This car gained immense popularity. Especially at that time Ford also developed a small aircraft called “Air Flivver”. They called it everyone’s plane. But it wasn’t as successful as Ford expected. Failure of Ford’s Air Flivver also contributed to the popularity of Waldo Waterman’s Arrowbile.

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A newspaper article about “Arrowbile”
Photo courtesy: flyingcarsandfoodpills.com

Waldo Waterman tried to design the car within the selling price limit of $ 700, but due to high production cost, it was priced at $ 3,000. That’s more than $ 56,000 at today’s prices if compared. Only three models of this type were manufactured. Two of them malfunctioned on their way to the New York Air Show. Because of this, only one was taken to the exhibition. It was also transported with the help of a truck. 

Later these were renamed to Aerobile around 1950 and have been on display at the Smithsonian Museum since 1961.

The human desire to create flying cars did not end there. The Convair Model 118 is another such aircraft designed by Convair Aircraft Manufacturing Company in 1947.

Another aircraft, the Aerocar, was created in 1949 by a company named “Aerocar”. Although the Aerocar company’s primary goal was to manufacture flying vehicles, they abandoned their operations after the 1960s due to many reasons like high research .

Anyway there was some silence on the topic of flying cars for a considerable time period. 

Back to Life!

But in 2006, people around the world started hearing about flying car experiments again. Although various experiments have been carried out by various companies since 2006, most of them have been limited to one prototype. Also, in recent times, the design of electric vehicles has begun. Experimenting with the idea of Drone Taxi is also popular among the manufacturers. These Drone Taxis can be lifted vertically just like a helicopter without the need of a runway. 

Dutch company Pal-V’s Liberty became the world’s first road-legal flying car last year!

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Liberty – The world’s first road-legal flying car!
Photo Courtesy: pal-v.com
Latest Addition to Flying Car Race!

The latest flying car prototype flew between two airports of Slovakia last month. This is the first time such an event has taken place, and it is an important milestone in the history of the flying car industry. It was designed by a company called Klein Vision and was named “AirCar”. This “AirCar” took off from Nitra International Airport in Slovakia and arrived at Bratislava International Airport after a 35-minute flight, on June 28th, 2021 . It is said that the plane reached a maximum speed of 190 kilometers per hour.

You can watch the video of AirCar which was designed by Klein Vision here:

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AirCar; Dual-mode car-aircraft vehicle with its wings folded and unfolded
Photo Courtesy: motor1.com/ Klein Vision

According to the founder of the car, Professor Stefan Klein, the car can travel up to 1,000 km and 8,500 feet high in the sky. It uses a 160 horsepower petrol engine manufactured by BMW. This car can carry a load of about 200 Kg. The seats are designed to accommodate only two people. This car can be converted into an airplane in just 2 minutes and 15 seconds. In order to fly, the vehicle has to be taken to an airstrip. The manufacturers plan to use a 300 horsepower engine for the next version of the car.

The flying car has so far completed 40 hours of flight time under the Slovakia Civil Aviation Authority. The European Aviation Safety Agency has already granted the EASA CS-23 Certificate for General, Utility, and Passenger Aircraft Launching, as well as the M1 Route License required to operate on the route. 

Professor Stefan Klein says that in the future, they will start mass production and plans to capture at least a small percentage of global aircraft demand. 

Klein Vision, the firm behind AirCar, claims the prototype took two years to create and cost “less than 2 million euros” (£1.7 million).

Anton Zajac, an adviser and investor in Klein Vision, said that there are around 40,000 orders of aircraft in the United States alone and if they can convert 5% of those orders to change the aircraft for the Flying car, they will have a huge market!

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AirCar on the road and in the sky!
Photo courtesy: motor1.com/ Klein Vision

How will flying cars change the future?

Most of the companies that have been experimenting with flying cars are already saying that they will start mass production in another two or three years. Accordingly, only the minority who can obtain a pilot’s license will invest money in this first. For example, ordinary cars, personal computers, and cell phones were first purchased only by the community that could invest in them.

Later, due to the rapid decline in their prices, the technology came to many people. If this assumption is correct for flying cars as well, the world’s transportation network itself will take a much different path.

The Future World Will Be A Whole Different World!

Roads will be less congested and the airways will get more traffic. Therefore, it is imperative that new laws be enacted regarding the use of airways. Also, the methodology for obtaining pilot licenses has to be changed. They will need to be categorized according to their flight height. Even urban planning needs to be adapted to this new mode of transportation. The construction of buildings will be subjected to certain regulations to prevent possible accidents while flying.

The upper floors of the apartments can be expected to have space for landing and parking of flying cars. Even public parking lots will be built above the ground, since it’s not practical to constantly land between buildings. Because of this, buildings will be often expected to be connected by flyovers.

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A drawing of a conceptual city in the future
Photo courtesy: dailymotion.com

Is The World Really Ready To Fly By Cars?

Although cities are designed to accommodate flying vehicles, there are a number of challenges that must be overcome. 

One is that these vehicles have two opposite needs. That is, the aircraft must be light and narrow to maintain aerodynamics and the lift. On the other hand, a car must be wide and heavy enough to generate a downforce in order to be centered on the road. When wider and heavier, the flight range decreases as more fuel is required to fly. Developing a vehicle that meets all of these requirements in a balanced way can be costly and time consuming.

Although “Klein Vision” Company has overcome the above challenge to some extent, it has not released much data on its use as a car for everyday use. It should also be noted that the AirCar, which is about 20 feet long when the wings are folded, is not an easy task to handle in a city.

If you have a flying car, it is of no use, if you have to cross many roads to find a runway ( or at least an airstrip). To overcome this problem, VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircrafts can be used. But, they also have inherent problems. Foremost among these is the issue of security.

Considering the number of accidents per day caused by normal land vehicles, a large number of aircraft with one or more rotating rotors are more likely to cause serious accidents than flying in the sky. Therefore, VTOLs should be used only after they are fully secured. Although the cost of VTOL aircraft is lower than that of flying cars, their shape and location on the rotor make it impractical to travel on land routes.

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Conceptual Design of a Future VOTL Flying Car
Photo Courtesy: Siemens Blog

We all know that air traffic management in a busy airport is a complex process. It goes without saying that a large number of air cars of various types and shapes are created in an air traffic management system when flying over a city. According to research experts, it would be better to have an air taxi service instead of making it possible for every person to buy a flying car.

Several companies are already conducting research using VTOL aircraft to launch electric-powered drone taxi services. They reduce air pollution but do not solve noise pollution. In the future, if VTOLs are designed to be quieter, a lighter and less expensive drone taxi concept than the flying car concept will be practical.

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