(Source: arstechnica.com)

  • AeroMobil

  • AeroMobil

  • AeroMobil

  • AeroMobil

  • AeroMobil

  • AeroMobil

The flying car—or lack thereof—has become 21st-century shorthand for complaints about the future and questionable technological progress. Futurists in the 1950s and 1960s promised us cities in space, shiny silver jumpsuits, and an end to gridlock as Joe Smith ditched the clogged freeways and took his commute to the air. Obviously, that didn’t happen, but AeroMobil still believes in that dream and thinks that technologies like lightweight materials and better engines have now gotten to the point where it can make the idea work. On Thursday it unveiled the latest version of its flying car at the Top Marques show in Monaco.

It’s the fourth evolution of a flying car from the AeroMobil team, but the first designed to satisfy European and federal road vehicle and aircraft regulations. “Technology didn’t exist when we tried [our] first attempts,” said Douglas MacAndrew, AeroMobil’s Chief Technical Officer. “Now we can deliver very lightweight structures and very high power engines. Because of those and the market, drivers wanting to have access to freedom of movement, that has driven AeroMobil to come into existence. We’ve spent two years [since the debut of Flying Car version 3.0] trying to deliver it as a consistent and legal product.”

The Flying Car’s body is made from high-strength, lightweight carbon fiber. It uses wings to fly—forget any thoughts of taking off vertically from your front yard—which stow flat atop its roof when driving. Eventually, AeroMobil plans to offer a version capable of full autonomy on the ground and in the air, but for now you’ll need a pilot’s license as well as a driver’s license to operate it. The company has even caught the mobility bug, telling Ars that ride- and flight-hailing as a service is on the cards.

Behind the passenger cell is horizontally opposed, 300hp (223kW) turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine that drives a variable pitch pusher-propellor in flight. On the ground, the same engine acts as a generator, powering a pair of electric motors, one for each front wheel. Yes, that’s right, it’s a hybrid.

“Emissions regulations are complex, and we have to manage two different aspects of engine development. Aircraft engines are designed to develop peak power whenever the pilot wants it, reliably,” MacAndrew said.

But road cars need a wider powerband with more stringent pollution controls. So hybridization solves the problem of having to build an engine that meets both those use cases. But it’s not packed full of batteries like a Volt or Prius, and you don’t plug it in to charge it.

AeroMobil says that it can be transformed for flight within three minutes, and that it should have a range of just under 450 miles as a road car and just over that when cruising at altitude. But it’s not particularly cheap; prices are between $1.3 and $1.6 million, which explains why AeroMobil chose the supercar-heavy Top Marques show to show off the Flying Car.

Listing image by AeroMobil

More Info: arstechnica.com

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