As the Dutch company Pal-V unveils its latest flying car gyrocopter at the Geneva motor show, we ask whether the dream of flying cars for all could one day become a reality.
“007 was here,” said the graffiti is inscribed on the wall of Pal-V stand at the Geneva motor show. Below is a creation of James Bond would certainly be proud of.
The Dutch company has just launched its first flying car on the market.
It is a compact, three-wheeled, in which he said that they can offer a sporty performance on the road and then take the air with the aid of a set stretch of rotors.
So, is this a sign that air travel is about to get a whole lot more accessible, or will devices like this are only toys for the rich?
The car is called Freedom. In flight, it is what is known as an auto-gyro or gyrocopter.
In other words, it has helicopter-like blades to spin freely in order to generate lift, while the power is supplied by two 100 horsepower engines, by means of a propeller at the rear.
James Bond, aka 007, has stolen something similar in the film you only live twice – a chilly skin called Little Nellie – and the company is very pleased with the comparison.
But the Freedom is larger, more luxurious, and it can also be used on the road, which means that it is not a model.
It is possible to use one of its two engines drive up to 99mph (160km/h) on the ground, allowing the driver to drive directly from the destination track.
The secret to do this efficiently, the company says, it is the technology that allows the car to tilt into the turns and remain stable, in spite of its three wheels.
LEON NEAL//GETTY IMAGES
It is this practice that the Pal-V believe will be the Freedom of the main selling point.
“This is the frustration of general aviation,” said the chief executive Robert Dingemanse
“With a small plane or a helicopter to take off from a place that you don’t want to let him go, and end up in a place you don’t really want to be.
“But if you have a car, you can start your garage door, then go directly to the place you want to be – and this is what we offer you 3D mobility.”
But a gyrocopter design has its drawbacks, argues Professor Harry Hoster, at the head of the Lancaster University Energy Research Center.
“Gyrocopters can land in a very small area, unlike normal helicopters,” he says, “but they still need a bit of momentum before it can take off, so that they would not be able to use the helicopter pads on the top of buildings, for example.
“And you have problems in densely populated areas,” he adds, “because the rotors would need a big radius of free space.”
The noise would also be an issue in urban areas, the Teacher in the Host believes.
Pal-V is not the only company that is trying to make a commercial success of a flying car. Others have adopted a different approach, opting for fixed or folding wing drawings.
American Terrafugia, for example, which was recently bought by Volvo’s Chinese owner Geely, has developed a flying car to which the hinge of the wing fold after the volume
Chris Jaran, Terrafugia’s chief executive, told the BBC: “You can fit it in your garage, you can go to any airport, you can unfold the wings, fly to another airport, fold it up and drive to your destination.”
The essence of the vehicles, which can travel at 70mph [113km/h] on the road and 100 mph in the air, it meets “all of the regulations for aircraft and cars in the united States,” said Mr Jaran.
The Co-founders of Anna and Carl Dietrich hopes that their business will bring the vision of personal aviation to the masses a little more closely. But at about $ 280,000 (Â£202,000), which is hardly a mass-market price.
And the need to drive to the airport to fly the thing, this is another major drawback – the company recognizes.
It is therefore working on a new version, the TF-X, with propellers that can tilt upward for vertical lift-off, then tilt down for forward propulsion.
Then there is the company Slovak AeroMobil – it has developed a car with wings that come back properly positioned behind the steering position after the vol., It uses electrical energy on the road and a gasoline engine in the air. Yours for a mere $1.2 million (Â£860 000).
Nick Wirth, technical director of Wirth Research, a specialist in race car and the drone designer, think that regulation is the flying car is biggest obstacle, not the technology.
“Regulations on airworthiness have been developed more than 100 years, so it takes years of work to get something cleared for use by the drivers. Crashing in an airplane is usually a lot more serious than crashing in a car,” he said.
“It is a huge difference to owning and operating a car owning and operating an aircraft.”
Current regulatory regimes around the world require flight car owners to have a pilot’s license, another potential barrier to mass adoption.More Technology of Business
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“The problem is that you end up with a product that needs the engineering and regulatory around you end up with something that is incredibly expensive,” says Mr Wirth.
“Is there a market for this? There may be, but it’s going to be tiny.”
And the Bill Read, deputy editor in chief of Aerospace, the Royal Aeronautical Society magazine, said: “If you have a lot of them, you will have the equivalent of the antenna of congestion, so that you need to have the air of the corridors, and the specific heights that they have to fly, and other rules for flying over cities.
“I think autonomous sky taxi stand the best chance of obtaining regulatory approval of car theft.”
Mr Dingemanse said the Pal-V of the Freedom has been designed from the ground up to comply with the aviation and road safety regulations. But, like its potential rivals, it doesn’t come cheap.
A first limited edition model cost â‚¬500,000(Â£450,000) – while the standard version will always be up to you of â‚¬300 000(Â£270 000). The company hopes to sell approximately 1,000 aircraft per year.
But until now, it has not sold any espionage. Follow the Company’s Technology editor Matthew Wall on Twitter and Facebook
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