Yes, you read that right. A test flight, not a test drive.
In a historic milestone this week, a car flew between two airports in Slovakia. The test flight took 35 minutes and was carried out using a hybrid car-aircraft made by Klein Vision. The flying car – referred to as AirCar – is powered by a BMW engine.
The AirCar can cruise at 190 km/h in the air and carry two passengers. It can transform from car to aircraft in just over two minutes. The vehicle’s wings fold alongside the car, then slide out when transforming into an aircraft.
According to Klein Vision, creator of AirCar, the vehicle took two years to produce and cost less than 2 million euros in investments.
The company believes there’s a market for its flying cars. An investor in the company claimed that there are over 40,000 aircraft sales in the US, and that capturing even 5% of that market could be huge for the business.
BBC News reports that Morgan Stanley predicted the flying car industry could be worth as much as £1.5 trillion by 2040. Companies such as Google and Uber are heavily investing in the industry, as air taxis are often dubbed the future of travel.
Yet, despite its potential, the sector has faced criticism by the likes of Elon Musk. In 2017, he expressed his concern with the noise caused by flying cars, as well as their potential dangers.
“If somebody doesn’t maintain their flying car, it could drop a hubcap and guillotine you,” Musk said. “Your anxiety level will not decrease as a result of things that weigh a lot buzzing around your head,” Musk said.
On the other hand, car manufacturers have shown a lot of interest in the field. Earlier this week, Hyundai’s Europe chief predicted that flying cars will become a reality by 2030.
The automobile giant is also engaged in the development of the world’s first popup airport in the UK, which allows aircrafts to take off without a runway. This won’t work for AirCar which requires a runway to take off, but could be particularly useful for other flying cars which can take off from a steady point the same way helicopters currently do.
Regardless of their practicality, flying cars are surely something to get excited about. Projects such as AirCar, which is a fully functioning prototype, highlight how far technology and innovation have come.
As we fly straight into a sci-fi future, the question is, are you hopping along for the ride?