When sci-fi becomes reality: Flying cars

  In the sci-fi movie “Blade Runner”, the urban appearance of Los Angeles in the future is not much different from today’s big cities, but what really impresses the audience is probably the flying car driven by the protagonist. Restricted by the background of the times and technical means, the flying car in the film is not advanced today – the bulky CRT display screen, the blunt car shell lines, and even the airflow ejected to the ground by the flying car when it takes off It’s just dry ice fog, without any sense of speed and power. Even so, the film showed at the time what people could imagine a flying car should look like.
early attempts

  Humans have long imagined flying cars.
  In 1917, Curtis, the pioneer of the American aviation industry, announced the AutoPlane (meaning “flying car”) produced by his company at the Pan-American Aviation Exposition. Its basic structure is similar to that of a glider, but its manufacturing process and completion are better than those of a glider Much higher. The shape of this flying car is basically a car with wings. It is mainly made of lightweight aluminum, with 3 seats in the car, and the maximum output power of the vehicle is about 100 horsepower (1 horsepower ≈ 735 watts). It is a pity that this flying car failed to complete the lift-off, and only made a few short vacations during the driving process.

118 flew up, but failed to land

  Although the development of flying cars is very slow, Ford, the founder of Ford Motor, made a bold prediction in 1940: “Remember what I said, the day when airplanes and cars merge will come soon, you can laugh at me, but this is It was bound to happen.” In 1947, a flying car code-named 118 was successfully launched, and its overall design was very simple: basically a car welded under the fuselage of a light aircraft, powered by a car engine. However, the designers miscalculated the fuel consumption, causing the flying car to make an emergency landing due to lack of fuel. As a result, the vehicle and wings were almost completely damaged, but fortunately no one was injured.

The flying car designed by Curtiss failed to take to the sky
very difficult

  After the airplane was invented, people’s travel became more convenient and relaxed. However, due to the need to build a special airport and the limited number of airplanes, it is less convenient for people to travel by airplane. With that in mind, the idea of ​​blending airplanes with more down-to-earth cars is appealing. Flying cars, as the name suggests, must have the mobility of cars and airplanes at the same time, that is, they must be able to drive on roads and fly in the air. If you have a flying car of your own, you can go wherever you want anytime, anywhere. The idea of ​​freedom represented by flying cars has fascinated countless people.
  However, in addition to many factors such as aviation management regulations, route regulations, and aircraft driver’s licenses, the instability of flying cars makes it difficult to popularize them in a short period of time. In fact, more than 50 years ago, a Canadian company manufactured two flying cars, and the cost of each was close to 10 million US dollars! But even with so much investment in R&D and manufacturing costs, these two flying cars still have the problem of too little engine thrust and cannot fly as smoothly as ordinary aircraft. The stability requirements of flying cars far exceed those of ordinary cars. After all, once a flying car is turned off in the air, the consequences will be fatal.

Flying cars must be able to drive on roads as well as fly in the sky

Rotor scheme may be better suited for flying cars

  Taking off and landing of flying cars is also a problem. An Airbus A320 passenger plane needs to slide at least 1280 meters in order to accelerate from rest to the minimum take-off speed (300 km/h). Such a long gliding distance will undoubtedly make the use of flying cars very troublesome. At the same time, it is very inconvenient for fixed-wing aircraft to move on the road with a wingspan of more than ten meters. Even if the wings are folded, the problem of long gliding distance is difficult to solve. Therefore, some manufacturers have simply abandoned the fixed-wing scheme and turned to the rotor scheme.
  If the flying car wants to go to the sky, it must provide enough lift. In today’s context of new energy vehicles, future flying cars are likely to be powered by batteries. However, if this is the case, then the electric flying car cannot be as heavy as an electric car if it is to take off smoothly. You should know that the unloaded weight of an ordinary four-seater light aircraft is generally 0.7 tons, while the average unloaded weight of an ordinary electric family car is 2 tons. If a flying car wants to take off, manufacturers have to consider the issue of lightweighting.

The flying car code-named “Freedom” has been put into production

Fixed-wing flying cars are difficult to pass on urban roads (imagination)
coming true

  Although there are many difficulties in the manufacture and on-road of flying cars, many companies have launched an impact on this goal.
  In October 2020, the flying car named “Freedom” was approved by the European authorities to go on the road. This is the world’s first flying car approved to go on the road, but it has not yet obtained the permission to fly in the sky. Still, Freedom was able to lift off. When driving on the road, the rotor on the top of the “Freedom” and the tail at the rear of the car are in a folded state. At this time, the flying car is like an ordinary hatchback. When flying, the driver needs to fully expand the rotor and tail, then start the rotor, and then increase the speed of the vehicle to above 50 km/h. With the help of the lift provided by the rotor, the vehicle can slowly lift into the air. Because of the rotor structure, “Freedom” can also be regarded as a rotorcraft. Gyroplanes are similar to helicopters, the main difference is that helicopters can take off and land vertically, while gyroplanes cannot. However, gyroplanes are more suitable for flying cars because they are less difficult to take off, land and fly. “Freedom” has a maximum flight speed of 180 km/h and a maximum range of 500 km.

The flying car of Wofei Changkong Technology (Chengdu) Co., Ltd. has successfully tested

“Air Mobility 3.0” flying car developed by a company in Slovakia

  Coincidentally, Wofei Changkong Technology (Chengdu) Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of my country’s Geely Automobile Group, has also launched a flying car. Unlike “Freedom”, this flying car is closer to a fixed-wing aircraft-the wings are located on both sides of the body, on land. The wings fold up when driving, and then unfold when flying. The flying car has a maximum flight speed of 185 km/h and a cruising range of 800 km.
  Although many companies have launched their own flying cars, some of which are well-designed products, there are currently no air routes for flying cars in the world, and these flying cars cannot officially fly.
  In March 2022, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Science and Technology issued the Outline of the Mid- and Long-term Development Plan for Scientific and Technological Innovation in the Transportation Field (2021-2035), which mentioned “deploying the research and development of flying cars, breaking through the integration of aircraft and cars, flying and Ground driving free switching and other technologies.” It can be seen that our country has foreseen some advantages of flying cars in the future traffic pattern: by transferring the traffic flow from the ground to the air, flying cars can effectively relieve the current huge traffic pressure; Can provide rescue force more efficiently than cars. Maybe within ten years, we will be able to sit in flying cars.