Flying Cars: High in the sky
Firms such as E-volo, Lilium and Uber are re-imagining the daily commute.
“You may smile, but it will come,” said Henry Ford in 1940, predicting the arrival of a machine that was part-automobile and part-aeroplane.
For decades flying cars have obsessed technologists but eluded their mastery.
Finally there is reason to believe.
Several firms have offered hope that flying people in small pods for short trips might become a reality in the next decade.
These are not cars, as most are not fit to drive on land, but rather small vehicles, which can rise and land vertically, like quiet helicopters.
A prototype of a small electric plane that is capable of flying up to 300 kilometres per hour, made by Lilium, a German startup, completed a successful test over Bavaria on April 20th.
Lilium is starting work on a five-seat vehicle and hopes to offer a ride-hailing service.
Another German company, e-volo, has been testing a flying vehicle for several years.
It recently showed off the second version of its electric Volocopter, which could be certified for flight as soon as next year.
There are at least a dozen firms experimenting with making small flying vehicles in different guises, including Airbus, an aerospace giant, in partnership with Italdesign Giugiaro, a division of Volkswagen, a carmaker.
Many plan to have a certified pilot in command at the beginning and then move on to an autonomous set-up when regulations allow.
Motorcycle-type vehicles, which you sit astride, are also in the works.