[YesAuto News] Regarding the future of travel, human imagination is wild and unconstrained. When you still think autonomous driving is incredible, the concept of flying cars has appeared again. The land becomes crowded, and people will inevitably think about the sky. But will this travel tool that often only appear in science fiction movies really come into real life? To be sure, a group of companies around the world have begun research on flying cars, and fast companies have already shouted the slogan of starting delivery in 2019. However, from delivery to large-scale application, experts say it will take another 30 years, and it is estimated that it will not be until 2050 that the commercialization of flying cars will begin.
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1. In 2017, more than 20 teams around the world are conducting research on flying cars. Overall, most flying car projects are still in their infancy.
2. The commercialization of flying cars faces multiple obstacles such as policies and regulations, safety, noise, and costs. It is difficult to enter the urban airspace for large-scale promotion in the short term. The demonstration operation in suburbs, scenic spots, expressways and other places is more stable in the early stage.
3. Currently, two flying car companies, Terrafugia in the United States and PAL-V in the Netherlands, have announced that they will deliver in 2019.
■ There are over 20 flying car projects in the world
The flying car, as its name implies, is an amphibious travel tool that can run on land and soar in the sky. The earliest exploration of flying cars began in 1917. The American Curtis developed the world’s first flying car, the Autoplane. Although Autoplane has never actually flew into the sky, it is considered the first human exploration of flying cars. One step further, Curtis is also known as the father of flying cars. In the nearly 100 years since then, flying cars still exist only in people's imaginations, failing to come into life.
|Global flying car project layout|
|Serial number||Company Name||product name||progress|
|1||Terrafugia (Geely)||Transition||Delivery in 2019|
|2||PAL-V||Liberty||Delivery in 2019|
|3||Audi-Airbus||Pop.UP NEXT||2018 Geneva Motor Show unveiled|
|4||Volocopter (Daimler)||——||The first product completed the test flight|
|5||Cartivator (Toyota)||SkyDrive||Mass production version launched in 2025|
|6||Aston Martin||Volante Vision||development phase|
|7||Kitty||Cora||Go public within five years|
|9||Lilium||Lilium Jet||First manned flight in 2019|
|10||Nirvana Systems||GoroDrive||Flight test phase|
|11||Uber||——||Put on the market in 2023|
|12||Airbus||——||Established a new department responsible for flying cars|
|13||Boeing||——||Established a new department responsible for flying cars|
|14||Aurora (Boeing)||——||2020 test|
|15||Rolls-Royce||——||Operating flying taxis within ten years|
|Information source: media reports Tabulation: Autohome Industry Channel|
Flying cars have gradually begun to be paid attention to by capital in recent years. Wang Hewu, deputy secretary-general of the China Electric Vehicles Association of 100, introduced at a recent public meeting that in 2017, more than 20 teams around the world were conducting research on flying cars, and the participants were mainly divided into There are four categories: Boeing, Airbus and other established flying companies, Daimler, Geely, Toyota and other automobile companies, as well as Internet technology companies and start-ups. At the same time, flying cars have attracted a large amount of capital. Google, Tencent, Geely, Uber and other companies have invested more than 2 billion U.S. dollars.
On the whole, flying cars are still in the proof-of-concept stage, and most flying car projects are still gestating. Wang Hewu introduced that most companies are still at the stage of “PPT car manufacturing”, and only a few companies with a strong financial background have formed products. Faster-moving companies have not only begun planning for product launches, but have also begun to discuss business application models. The integration of flying cars and travel services is a major trend, and companies such as Uber, Boeing, and Geely have launched relevant plans.
Currently, a few countries have liberalized flying car testing, such as the United States, Germany, and Japan. Wang Hewu introduced that the United States is the country with the most openness to flying cars. The American flying car company Terrafugia has obtained the permission of the U.S. Federal Administration for aircraft and the Highway Safety Administration to go on the road. Germany has also signed agreements with Audi and Airbus, agreeing to carry out flying car tests in some areas. Japan is led by the government, developed by government-affiliated companies and other enterprises, and the management department guides development through the introduction of relevant policies or basic roadmaps.
■ Flying cars face resistance such as safety and noise
Although flying cars provide new ideas for alleviating urban traffic congestion, there are still many ways to go from concept to mass production to commercial operation, and they will also face a series of obstacles, such as: regulatory issues of laws and regulations, safety issues, infrastructure , Noise issues, cost issues, etc.
The government needs to formulate airspace regulatory regulations and regulatory mechanisms specifically for flying cars. Flying cars need to be integrated into the urban airspace, and the city is a special airspace with a high density of population and buildings, which requires extremely high aircraft response rates. There is little difference in whether the reaction speed is one second or five seconds during high-altitude flight, but a few seconds difference in low-altitude urban airspace may cause huge safety accidents. Therefore, a sound urban low-altitude flight management system is established to ensure the safety of flying cars. The regulator is a difficult point.
Infrastructure construction is the guarantee for the large-scale promotion of flying cars. According to Lu Renmin, director of the General Aviation Department of the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China, if you want to make flying cars more convenient than general aviation, you need to build more intensive take-off and landing points than airports. There are currently 19,000 general-purpose airports in the United States, and more than 100,000 take-off and landing points are needed for flying cars. China's land area is basically similar to that of the United States, so China's promotion of flying companies also needs such a density of takeoff and landing points.
Flying cars at low altitudes will produce very loud noise, which will also be an important factor affecting its development. Lu Renren believes that whether this problem can be solved will affect the application of flying cars. In the long run, if the noise of flying cars cannot be reduced to the level of existing cars, it will affect their large-scale promotion. In addition, like new energy vehicles, flying vehicles also face high costs in the early stages of development, and whether they can obtain support and subsidies from the state will also affect their development process.
Based on the above problems, it is difficult for flying cars to meet the flying standards of urban airspace in the short term for large-scale applications. Lu Renren believes that the development of new products requires time to control risks, and consumers need a process to accept things. Flying cars can be tested in suburban areas, scenic spots, and highways in advance.
■ Two companies announced the delivery of flying cars in 2019
The most concerned flying car company in China is Terrafugia of the United States, which is mainly attributed to the Geely Group. Terrafugia was founded in 2006. In 2010, it developed the mass-produced flying car Transition, and in 2013 it launched the TF-X concept car. In June 2017, Geely Group acquired Terrafugia wholly-owned at a high price of US$600 million, making it a Chinese-owned holding company.
Terrafugia CEO Chris Jaran introduced in a recent interview that Terrafugia will start pre-sale in October this year and deliver it in 2019. The first mass-produced model Transition is a two-seater product that uses hybrid technology. This car will be produced and trial-installed by Terrafugia's factory in Linjiang Industrial Park, Hangzhou, and is mainly targeted at the private consumer market in the US market. The second mass-produced product will be a four-seater flying car, which is expected to be introduced into the commercial market in 2023.
At the same time, Geely Group is also looking for scenarios for the commercialization of flying cars. In June of this year, Geely Group signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Hainan Provincial Agricultural Reclamation Investment Holding Group Co., Ltd., the largest state-owned enterprise in Hainan Province. It plans to use the high-end tourism industry as an opportunity to introduce Terrafugia flying car technology into Hainan to test the waters and develop offshore island tourism. project.
In addition to Terrafugia, the Dutch flying car company PAL-V also plans to hand over the keys to its first mass-produced car Liberty in 2019. It is reported that the car will be priced at USD 399,000.
Among the auto companies that have deployed flying cars are Daimler, Toyota, and Audi. Daimler is also deploying flying cars through investment. In August 2017, Daimler led the investment in flying car company Volocopter through 2500 euros. Volocopter has designed an electric flying taxi that will carry out a demonstration of passengers on Dubai highways in cooperation with the Dubai Transport Authority. According to reports, the plan will start a five-year operational test from the end of 2017.
Toyota Motor sponsored the Cartivator flying car project research in 2017, and its first product was named SkyDrive. Toyota hopes that SkyDrive will make its debut at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and ignite the torch at the Olympic Stadium. Toyota also plans to launch a mass production version of SkyDrive in 2025. Audi is co-developing flying cars with Airbus and released the first flying car Pop.Up Next at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. In addition to the aforementioned car companies, Aston Martin also expressed plans to develop flying cars.
It is also worth noting that the car operator Uber has cooperated with NASA, the US Army Research Laboratory and other departments, and plans to start commercial testing of flying cars in 2020, and commercial flying car services in 2023.
Summary of the full text: The technological maturity of the flying car itself is a difficulty, and it is even more difficult to go from small-scale demonstration to large-scale promotion. At present, flying cars still face technical problems such as how to take off and land and how to reduce noise. As it takes time to verify technology and explore business models, Zhang Yangjun, a professor at the Department of Automotive Engineering of Tsinghua University, predicts that the time point for the real popular application of flying cars will be around 2050.