In a couple of years, the super-rich could be travelling above traffic jams and avoiding the hassle of airports in their very own flying cars. For everyone else, the equivalent of a flying Uber is in the pipeline.
AeroMobil, the Slovakian company behind the car-cum-aeroplane, hopes to sell its first manually-driven two-seater flying cars to customers in 2017, followed by a four-seater self-driving alternative shortly afterwards.
The startup has been in existence for five years, and a number of failed prototypes have been built during that time. The latest version (3.0) incorporates “significant improvements and upgrades to the previous prototype 2.5”, according to the company website.
Capable of flying for three hours continually, it will take off from any grass strip which is large enough, meaning those with sufficient space in their homes could build their own runways. “As a plane it can use any airport in the world, but can also take off and land using any grass strip or paved surface just a few hundred meters long,” the website says.
Speaking yesterday at the South by Southwest festival in Texas, chief executive Juraj Vaculik described it as a “Ferrari with wings”, but it is likely to come with an even heftier price tag than the luxury car – the cost has not been confirmed yet, but it is estimated to be in the region of a few hundred thousand euros.
Vaculik said he hopes to release the first model to “wealthy supercar buyers” by 2017, but the sales process is expected to begin next year.
Teaming up with a taxi service
To drive AeroMobil 3.0, a normal driver's license won't do – a minimum of 40 hours' flight training and a Private Pilot License (PPL) are “strongly recommended”.
An easier (and cheaper) option might be to wait for the autonomous flying taxis to be put into action – Vaculik said eventually he hopes to offer self-flying cars to the masses by launching a flying version of Uber's ground-based taxi service.
There are still hurdles to jump before the technology reaches that point, however – AeroMobil has not yet received regulatory approval for its manual flying car, let alone one without any human control.