When you imagine the future, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Well, if it's not flying cars, you're clearly imagining the future incorrectly.
Flying cars have long been a staple of science fiction - from Huxley's Brave New World to Luc Besson's The Fifth Element - with our imagined futures often featuring commuters and travelers taking to the skies in their own personal aircraft.
Several experimental companies have tried to create flying cars (or perhaps more accurately road-worthy light aircrafts) before, but none seem as sleek and snazzy as the new AeroMobil 3.0 prototype.
What Can It Do?
The AeroMobil was developed by a Slovakian company of the same name and was recently unveiled at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna. The current design apparently only took 10 months to complete, although AeroMobile's founder and head of the Department of Transport Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Slovakia, Stefan Klein, has been working on the concept of a flying car since 1989.
As a limousine-sized car, the AeroMobile can reach a rather respectable 160 km/h (99 mph) and can apparently navigate existing road infrastructure with ease. Furthermore, since the vehicle runs on gasoline and not kerosine, it can be filled up at any gas station. But that's all rather boring, its USP is clearly it's ability to transform into a airplane in under two minutes.
With a simple press of a button, the AeroMobil unfolds its wings, activates the rear-propeller and becomes a de-facto light aircraft. It then needs 250 meters of runway or grass to take to the air, where it can reach speeds of 200 km/h (124 mph). Check it out doing just that in this rather sleek promotional video:
The AeroMobil 3.0 also has all you need to fly a vehicle, including avionics equipment, autopilot and an advanced parachute deployment system. Unfortunately, there's no reference to ejector seats.
When Can I Get One?
Currently, the AeroMobil 3.0 is only is in a prototype form and has been certified by the Slovak Federation of Ultra-Light Flying. It is currently entering regular flight-testing, with the hope of clearing the vehicle within the European Union as a small series category M1 car and a light sports aircraft. However, the AeroMobil would have to pass muster with the FAA before it could be used in the US.
Currently, the AeroMobil 3.0 is expected to serve two main purposes: continued performance testing and initial marketing. With this in mind, AeroMobil hopes to wheel the vehicle out to initial buyers in the coming years.
However, there's a catch. If you want to drive/fly one of these, you're going to need a driving license AND a sports pilot license, which I'm guessing most of you don't have.
And this could be the downside to the whole thing. In reality, it is a plane you can drive on the road. You still need to head to an airport to take off and land, while its flying abilities are probably inferior to a normal light aircraft. In fact, its driving abilities are also probably inferior to a normal car, too. So the advantage of owning this vehicle, over say a superior light aircraft AND a superior car, isn't immediately clear - although I suppose it does negate the need to always return to the same airfield to change back to your car.
Still, it does look pretty damn cool.