For every kid who sat in front of their TV every Saturday morning watching The Jetsons and dreaming of the day flying cars would take us anywhere we needed to go, the Slovakian company Aeromobil has brought us one step closer to that futuristic world becoming a reality. The company unveiled the prototype for their flying concept car, the Aeromobil 3.0, at this year's Top Marques event in Monaco, and The Richest got a coveted first look at this road-going flying machine.
It's been a long road for the company, who spent 20 years developing the necessary technology before their vehicle was finally able to take flight in 2013. The first version, Areomobil 1.0, was conceptualized between 1990-94 and lacked features such as the folding wings that are essential for the vehicle's road performance. The 2.0 followed in a long development period from 1995-2010, and in 2013 the 2.5 was the first version able to take to the air. Since then things have moved quickly, as the 3.0 further improved on the 2.5 and is slated for limited production by 2017.
The vehicle is powered by a Rotax 912S engine, commonly used in light aircraft. The horizontally opposed, four-cylinder engine produces 100 hp, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it's enough to hustle the 3.0 to a top speed of 99 mph on the road and 124 mph in the air. It's not going to win any drag races and it probably isn't the most nimble of vehicles to operate either. This thing is long, at nearly 20 feet (the Cadillac Escalade ESV is just short of 19 feet). The 3.0's wingspan is also impressive measuring 27 feet, four inches across when fully extended. The vehicle's body is made with light-weight carbon fibre components and Aeromobil is still working tirelessly to develop lighter materials that are strong enough to still adhere to government safety standards. The current version weighs 1,323 lbs when empty.
For now the company states that its initial product is aimed at "wealthy supercar buyers and flight enthusiasts," (its price tag is estimated to be a couple hundred thousand euros) but ideally that should change with time as the vehicle becomes available to a wider market and as regulations begin to accommodate personal air travel. The end game, according to AeroMobil CEO Juraj Vaculik, is to "move traffic from a 2D space to a 3D space," a pleasant enough idea for anyone who suffers through the daily grind of traffic.
If you're having a hard time believing this mode of personal transportation will ever become mainstream, Vaculik insists that he has a lot of support from EU governments who will pitch in to help with developmental costs as well as legislation to help integrate and regulate such vehicles both on the road and in the sky. The fact that the Aeromobil can utilize grass strips for take-off and landing as opposed to pavement, and only needs 650 feet to do so, makes for easy instalment of runways alongside highways and autoroutes.
The current version displayed at Top Marques is a two-seater and requires a light aircraft license to operate. Although they appear to still be quite far off, future versions will see an autonomous four-seater hybrid which won't require special licenses to operate. That's right, these things will be able to fly themselves without human intervention. Once that happens we'll truly be able to say we're living in the Jetsons-esque world we dreamed about as kids. Next up, escape pods for high-speed ejections!
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