In a launch on the campus of Draper University , in San Mateo, California, an entrepreneur revealed the way his flying car is aiming to begin its journey.
Alef claims its in-development electric vehicle Model A, which is still in development Model A, as the first flying car that actually flies the Model A – a car is expected to look similar to an electric car, but will be able to taking off vertically, and be capable of flying for 110km (68 miles).
The company is hoping to compete in a marketplace dominated by highly-advanced competitors, like AirCar or the Pal-V Gyrocopter, which are in flight and operating.
However, Jim Dukhovny, Alef’s chief executive and co-founder of the company, believes that that the current vehicles aren’t only flying vehicles in his opinion.
“A flying car must be a vehicle that can be driven on a normal street and park in a normal parking spot. Also, it should have a vertical take-off point,” he told the BBC.
“If you need an airport for take-off which is the issue you are trying to resolve? What is the reason for this flying vehicle?”
Flip the switch to fly
The top layer on the Model A’s carlike exterior is a mesh that air can move through eight propellers within the body that provide lift.
However, flying at all distances using these devices alone, without the help of wings, would require a lot of power.
Alef’s idea is innovative for long-distance flights. Model A transforms into a biplane.
After vertical lift-off, following a liftoff vertically, the Model A will turn onto its side. The two-person cockpit will swivel so that the driver stays looking forward and the vehicle transforms into an e-bike that has the length of its car form both the bottom and top wings.
The biplane-like shape that is classic which has two wings one above another, will be easy to spot in Model A if you imagine the mesh between those solid edges being taken away. Alef has also created an animation of the transformation.
Forbes said that the manner in which it will fly would be similar to that of it’s predecessor, the Opener Blackfly, an existing electric vertical take-off aircraft.
It’s a clever idea yet is this a real one?
The combination of flying and driving can be very heavy, and electric power is also the need for heavy batteries.
“The design is in the middle of what technology and physics can accomplish which is exactly what you’d imagine it to become,” Aeronautical engineering professor Steve Wright of the University of the West of England.
In the way it is seen can also create an aerodynamic drag that is significant, he says.
Alef claims that it has successfully made the switch to biplanes through “scaled flights” in the last year. It also has large prototypes that can fly vertically but they do not yet look like the sleek appearance of Alef’s concept designs and mock-ups.
However, Professor Wright warns that the leap from a concept to a functional product can be frequently overlooked.
Technical hurdles are not the only obstruction to the construction of highways that are filled with flying vehicles.
The certification and regulation of flying vehicles is likely to be lengthy, time-consuming and expensive, just like it is for all aircrafts.
For a biplane to fly, even one you could drive on roads, you will need an instructor’s license – although Mr. Dukhovny believes that for small, low-level flights over obstacles, using flying vertically, the licence that is used by drone pilots could suffice.
The authorities are also likely to enforce strict rules on the areas where vehicles may be flown.
“Wherever we’re going, we don’t require roads’
In these and many other ways Professor Wright believes that it is likely that the next generation of cars won’t be a vehicle that people own, drive and fly.
In the movie Back to the Future, Doc Brown’s fusion-powered DeLorean vehicle leaves the roadway and takes off into the sky.
“That isn’t the way mass airborne transport is likely to unfold and that’s a huge regret. I would love to have my own flying DeLorean just as everyone else would,” Prof Wright says.
In actuality, traveling by flying vehicle, as Professor Wright believes, is much like hiring taxis.
“You use your mobile and a car-like robot would appear, and it will take you to a place that is the size of a tiny park. When the drone arrives, it is brought down, it settles down, and you enter the area. That’s how you call drone taxi.”
Numerous companies are working on autonomous drones for passenger use. Recently, Chinese company Xpeng presented an initial public display of the X2 car in Dubai.
But Dukhovny believes that the concept of being capable of flying and driving in one car is appealing. If I ask him to purchase the Model A’s initial $300,000 (PS266,000) cost He says “early users”.
He claims that the public has been waiting on the possibility of flying cars for 100 years. Alef’s goal is to start selling cars by 2025.