Flying cars under development vary significantly

Spurred by technology advances and demand for transportation alternatives in increasingly congested cities, entrepreneurs around the globe are vying to become the first to develop a commercially viable “flying car.” The designs vary greatly, and most aren’t actually cars capable of driving on roads. Here are some examples:

Vahana

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is working at its Silicon Valley research center on a driverless flying taxi that at first will have a pilot, but will later be autonomous. The vertical takeoff-landing, all-electric aircraft is a cockpit mounted on a sled and flanked by propellers in front and back. Airbus plans to test a prototype before the end of 2017, and to have the first Vahanas ready for production by 2020.

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Cormorant

Israeli tech firm Urban Aeronautics originally designed its people-carrying drone as an “air mule” for military use. It takes off vertically and has a standard helicopter engine, but no large main rotor. Its lift comes from two fans buried inside the fuselage. Two smaller ducted “fans” mounted in the rear provide forward movement. It can fly between buildings and below power lines, attain speeds up to 115 mph, stay aloft for an hour and carry up to 1,100 pounds

___This image provided by Urban Aeronautics/Tactical Robotics shows an Israeli-made flying car. Urban Aeronautics conducted flight tests of its passenger-carrying drone call the Cormorant in Megiddo, Israel, late in 2016. (Urban Aeronautics/Tactical Robotics via AP)

Lilium Jet

German technology company Lilium Aviation is working on a two-seater aircraft that will take off vertically using 36 electric fan engines arrayed along its wings. The aircraft will hover and climb until the fans are turned backward slowly. After that, it flies forward like a plane using electric jet engines. The company has been flight-testing small scale models. The aircraft will have an estimated cruising speed of up to 190 mph and a range of 190 miles.

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AeroMobil 3.0

The Slovakian company AeroMobil has developed a car with wings that unfold for flight. It uses regular gasoline and fits into standard parking spaces. It can also take off from airports or “any grass strip or paved surface just a few hundred meters long,” according to the company’s website. Driver and pilot licenses will be required.

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EHang 184

Chinese drone maker EHang has been flight-testing a person-carrying drone in Nevada. The vehicle is a cockpit with four arms equipped with rotors. Takeoff and landing targets are pre-programmed. A command station in China will be able to monitor and control the aircraft anywhere in the world, company officials say.

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S2

Joby Aviation of Santa Cruz, California is developing a two-seat, all-electric plane with 12 tilt rotors arrayed along its wings and tail. The aircraft takes off and lands vertically and can achieve speeds up to 200 mph, according to the company’s website.

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Transition/TF-X

Terrafugia, based in Woburn, Massachusetts, began working a decade ago on a car folding wings that can fly or be driven on roads that’s called the Transition. The company says it plans to begin production of the Transition in 2019. Terrafugia is also working on a “flying car” called the TF-X — a car with folding arms and rotors for vertical takeoff and landing.

___This image provided by Urban Aeronautics/Tactical Robotics shows an Israeli-made flying car. Urban Aeronautics conducted flight tests of its passenger-carrying drone call the Cormorant in Megiddo, Israel, late in 2016. (Urban Aeronautics/Tactical Robotics via AP)

Volocopter

This two-seater, electric multicopter from German company e-volo has 18-rotors and looks like a cross between a helicopter and a drone. It is controlled from the ground, eliminating the need for a pilot license.

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Zee

This Mountain View, California, aircraft developer bankrolled by Google co-founder Larry Page says on its webpage that it is working on a “revolutionary new form of transportation” at the “intersection of aerodynamics, advanced manufacturing and electric propulsion.” Company officials declined to provide details about Zee’s projects.

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This image provided by Urban Aeronautics/Tactical Robotics shows an Israeli-made flying car. Urban Aeronautics conducted flight tests of its passenger-carrying drone call the Cormorant in Megiddo,… (Urban Aeronautics/Tactical Robotics via AP) More


Terrafugia unveils new TF-X flying car design

This article, Terrafugia unveils new TF-X flying car design, originally appeared on CNET.com. Terrafugia unveils new TF-X flying car designThe updated TF-X. Terrafugia Getting a light plane-car hybrid off the ground seems to be an arduous process. The TF-X, by American flying car company Terrafugia, was announced in May 2013, and will be in development some years yet. The updated TF-X. TerrafugiaTerrafugia unveils new TF-X flying car design But if your interest needed a pique, the company has announced something new: the updated exterior design of the TF-X (or outer mold line). In addition, Terrafugia said, the new design for the TF-X has been successfully tested in a one-tenth scale model wind tunnel, which is currently on display at the EAA AirVenture aviation convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “The model will be tested at the MIT Wright Brothers wind tunnel, the same tunnel that was used to test models of Terrafugia’s Transition. The wind tunnel test model will be used to measure drag, lift and thrust forces while simulating hovering flight, transitioning to forward flight and full forward flight,” Terrafugia wrote. tfx3.jpg The original 2013 design of the TF-X. Terrafugia The TF-X is the successor to the company’s Transition aircraft, which was successfully flown at EAA AirVenture in 2013. The company, founded in 2006 by MIT aeronautics and management graduates in Woburn, Massachusetts, was expected to start delivering its first Transition units at a projected $279,000 in 2015 or 2016. However, delivery of the first units was originally expected in 2011 and has been postponed several times since then — and it’s still expected to take a couple more years and cost up to $400,000, according to a report on Engadget. The newer flying car will be a hybrid electric vehicle. It will have the capacity to carry four people, fit into a standard single-car garage, and be both street-legal and easy to fly — taking, on average, around five hours to learn to operate in the skies. It will also, Terrafugia claims, be able to take off and land vertically, with “auto-landing” at approved sites. tfx2.jpg from left to right: street mode; take off and landing mode; and flight mode. Terrafugia In May of 2013, Terrafugia said the development of the TF-X would take between eight to 12 years. So far, it seems to be sticking to that timeline. You can read more about what the flying car has to offer (and sign up for email updates) on the Terrafugia website.

Michelle Starr