A Flying Car That Looks Like a Car and Doesn’t Need a Runway, Finally
If the artist illustration is to be believed, then Chinese EV-maker Xpeng’s flying car is one of the few flying cars that actually look like a car.
Unlike most flying cars that would more accurately be described be as a plane, helicopter or quadcopter with road-worthy wheels, Xpeng’s affiliate HT Aero has showcased an electric flying vehicle that has what appears to be a monocoque chassis of a supercar with rotors that can be tucked away when driving on roads and unfolded for flight. The rotor design also enables a vertical take-off that doesn’t need a runway, which means you could very well take off from your own driveway for your daily flight to work.
The vehicle has additional safety features that a sky-faring vehicle would need, such as an environmental perception system to monitor the weather and surroundings as well as a flight control system to help the driver/pilot avoid obstacles. Xpeng intends to sell the vehicle direct-to-consumer for urban use; in other words and unless the authorities have anything to say about it and they probably would, anyone can fly this baby, even without a pilot’s license. Dangerous, perhaps, if you are not used to navigating around birds, skyscrapers, drones and the lack of a road to guide you, but great if you want to avoid peak hour traffic.
According to Xpeng, the car can be supercharged for five minutes to give you a respectable range of 200km. And if you are worried about running out of battery mid-air, the safety precautions also include airbags and a parachute. Armies have airdropped entire tanks in the middle of warzones, so yes, a parachute could save you if your flying car suddenly plummets. However, if you are cruising over the city and have to deploy the parachute, there is no guarantee that you won’t end up crashing into the side of a building or onto humans, so Xpeng might want to go back to the drawing board for that.
In recent years, there have been many aspiring flying vehicle designs and concepts being showcased, many of which claim to be close to production. Xpeng is no different. The Chinese company plans to launch the vehicle as soon as 2024.
We like what we see so far: