Malaysia is working towards developing a prototype flying cars, and it’s expected to be launched by year-end. But is this feasible or just a gimmicky invention? For us, the idea of flying cars is synonymous to science fiction movies we see in the cinemas. So how close are we towards inventing the real flying car?
What is the first working flying car?
The first working flying car was the Aerocar designed and built by Molt Taylor in December 1949. Only 6 prototypes were built, the Aerocar never entered production. The prototype Aerocar utilised folding wings that allowed the vehicle to be converted into flight mode within five minutes. Aerocar could drive up to 60 miles per hour and have a top airspeed of 110 miles per hour.
What does a flying car would look like?
Various companies from around the world are incorporating various designs towards building a flying car. Uber is currently working on the electric eCRM-003 VTOL(Vertical Takeoff and Landing Aircraft) in hopes of expanding into a new service called the UberAir. Aeromobil is developing a prototype roadable aircraft and first flown in 2013. Urban Aeronautics X-Hawk is another VTOL designed and developed by Rafi Yoeli and planned to be built by Metro Skyways. TF-X the first autonomous flying car developed by Terrafugia as a plug-in hybrid tilt-rotor vehicle.
How safe are flying cars?
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges that many companies out there are currently facing is to design a flying car to be safe enough. Some of the risk factors to consider include weather, system error, air traffic and even birds! Ehang 184, the first passenger drone developed by the Chinese company Beijing Yi-Hang Creation Science & Technology, are equipped with a parachute but it is not clear how viable is the safety system. To reduce the likelihood of human errors, many companies sought to develop an automated system for flying cars. Most importantly, a flying car must be developed to be sturdy enough, to pass through road safety procedures, and light enough to be flight capable.
How much does a flying car will cost?
Purchasing a personal flying vehicle won’t come cheap. PAL-V Liberty an auto gyrocopter than can be taken to the road will cost approximately 300,000 – 500,000 euros. The Terrafugia Transition has gone on sale in the U.S. at the price of $400,000. Ehang 184 has its model price tag of $300,000. At present, a good build propulsion system will require advanced and expensive technologies which could cost at least 10 million dollars. While a flying car that is designed for short travel distance, at a higher frequency, lower speed and lower altitudes can help reduce the cost by designing an efficient propulsion system instead.
Flying cars depicted in movies
The first depiction of flying cars in fictional works appear in Fantomas se dechaine(1965). Fantomas droe a customised Citroen DS with retractable wings that converts into an aeroplane. In Star Wars, flying cars are depicted as airspeeders in the prequel movies from 1999 – 2005. Blade Runner(1982) a movie set in futuristic-cyberpunk Los Angeles of 2019 features fictional flying cars called the “Spinner.”
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