Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Flying car to go on sale

April 20, 2017 by Milos Krivokapic And Angela Charlton
AeroMobil display their latest prototype of a flying car, in Monaco, Thursday, April 20, 2017. The light frame plane whose wings can fold back, like an insect is boosted by a rear propeller. The company says it is planning to accept first preorders for the vehicle as soon as later this year. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

It may not be quite like the Jetsons, but for over a million dollars you too can soon fly around in a car.

A Slovakian company called AeroMobil unveiled on Thursday its version of a flying car, a light-framed plane whose wings can fold back, like an insect, and is boosted by a hybrid engine and rear propeller.

It will be available to preorder as soon as this year but is not for everyone: besides the big price tag—between 1.2 million and 1.5 million euros ($1.3 million-$1.6 million)—you'd need a pilot's license to use it in the air.

"I think it's going to be a very niche product," said Philip Mawby, professor of electronic engineering and head of research at the University of Warwick.

Several companies are working on flying cars, either like Aeromobil's two-seater that needs a runway, or others that function more like helicopters, lifting off vertically. But not many companies are seriously looking at marketing these vehicles anytime soon, Mawby said.

"The technology is there... The question is bringing it to the market at an affordable cost, and making it a useful product."

Among the big questions is how to control the air traffic if there are hundreds of such vehicles zipping through the air. There is no control except for traditional aircraft, notes Mawby.

Prince Albert II of Monaco, right, and Juraj Vaculik, CEO and co-founder of AeroMobil, applaud after unveiling the latest prototype of a flying car, in Monaco, Thursday, April 20, 2017. The light frame plane whose wings can fold back, like an insect is boosted by a rear propeller. The company says it is planning to accept first preorders for the vehicle as soon as later this year. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

So while vehicles like the AeroMobil could be used for recreational purposes by people who have a large piece of land, flying cars are unlikely to become a mass market reality anytime soon, he says.

The AeroMobil has a driving range of about 700 kms (435 miles) and a top speed of 160 kph (99 mph). When flying, its maximum cruising range is 750 kms (466 miles), and it takes about three minutes for the car to transform into a plane.

"You can use it as a regular car," said Juraj Vaculik, co-founder and CEO of Aeromobil, at the unveiling in Monaco. Though it is not legal —yet—to take off from a highway.

The previous AeroMobil 3.0 prototype made news in 2014 when it was presented in Vienna, but no test-flight took place then. It crashed during a test flight in Slovakia in 2015 with its inventor Stefan Klein on board. He escaped largely unharmed.

AeroMobil display their latest prototype of a flying car, in Monaco, Thursday, April 20, 2017. The light frame plane whose wings can fold back, like an insect is boosted by a rear propeller. The company says it is planning to accept first preorders for the vehicle as soon as later this year. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

AeroMobil display a rear view of their latest prototype of a flying car, in Monaco, Thursday, April 20, 2017. The light frame plane whose wings can fold back, like an insect is boosted by a rear propeller. The company says it is planning to accept first preorders for the vehicle as soon as later this year. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
AeroMobil display their latest prototype of a flying car, in Monaco, Thursday, April 20, 2017. The light frame plane whose wings can fold back, like an insect is boosted by a rear propeller. The company says it is planning to accept first preorders for the vehicle as soon as later this year. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
AeroMobil display their latest prototype of a flying car, in Monaco, Thursday, April 20, 2017. The light frame plane whose wings can fold back, like an insect is boosted by a rear propeller. The company says it is planning to accept first preorders for the vehicle as soon as later this year. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Explore further: Slovak makers of flying car press on after crash

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9 comments

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ab3a
5 / 5 (2) Apr 20, 2017
The problem with flying cars is that they are not good cars and they're not good airplanes. Worse, you get twice the regulation because you need to adhere to both Aviation and Roadworthiness law.

Dingbone
Apr 20, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
somefingguy
5 / 5 (3) Apr 21, 2017
It just looks and smells like a new toy for millionaires, extremely environmentally unfriendly in addition.


Are you really this ignorant, or just jealous that there are people with more money than you? A lot of newer high tech concepts are only made available to millionaires due to its high price tag in production, until they are refined and made cheaper; at which point it will be accessible to the public.
AlmostClever
1 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2017
Interesting perspectives with grit to each side.

What disturbs me is knowing that humans, on the whole, are horrible drivers.
Why, because we are readily distractible, or whatever justifies billons of R&D dollars for autonomous vehicles.

Worse still, that is in a 2D driving domain.

One could just imagine.
I say send them all up,
Except for folks like Elon Musk and the like.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 21, 2017
I don't want idiot goobers flying over my house.

Dingbone
Apr 21, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
gkam
1 / 5 (4) Apr 21, 2017
I just shudder at the thought of thousands of harried commuters filling the sky like flies, crashing into each other and landing on us.
Dingbone
Apr 21, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
rrrander
1 / 5 (1) Apr 22, 2017
In the 1960's, the average upscale person could get a small plane and fly around. That changed, insurance costs for flying a plane became so onerous that the move to personal flying gear dropped hugely, except for things like private jets. What do you suppose will happen when rich people start hitting each other and dropping on shopping malls, etc?

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