There has long been a promise of a world with flying automobiles. The idea of your car taking off and flying above traffic congestion has been extolled by futurists for decades. We’ve seen flying cars in movies and sci-fi comics, and now a company based in California has ambitions to make dreams come true.
According to Alef Aeronautics, the vehicle will be able to take off vertically into the air and travel 110 miles like a helicopter on a single charge. The corporation claims that it would start delivering the automobiles to clients by the end of 2025, which is even more astounding. Alef's Model A will cost $300,000. Pre-sales are presently available, and prospective buyers may join the waiting list by paying a $150 deposit or $1,500 for a "priority" spot. According to Alef, the business has been testing its prototype since 2019, and the model it intends to give clients will have a 200-mile driving range.
According to Alef CEO Jim Dukhovny, the car is primarily designed to stay on roadways and should ideally only fly briefly to avoid hazards. In certain situations, which he refers to as "hop" scenarios. Infrastructure, weather, and the state of the roads could all be factors in a brief flight. It's a daring idea. But a lot needs to happen before a flying car can truly travel the roads any time soon.
Challenging legalities and mass production
Four propellers are housed on each side of the car's open, mesh-like roof, which has a carbon-fiber shell and a two-seat cockpit. After take-off, the car spins on its side, so the propellers can control the direction of the vehicle like a giant flying drone. Alef claims that the car is road legal because it is made to abide by automotive laws and regulations. Tim Draper, a well-known venture capitalist who was an early investor in both Tesla and SpaceX, has even backed Alef. Alef has big ideas, so it will be a while before we really see automobiles floating overhead.
Top view of the Alef flying vehicle
For any automotive company, mass production is a problem, and getting governmental clearances to lawfully drive on public roads, much less fly over them, is frequently challenging. The Federal Aviation Administrationn (FAA) has modified its regulations about what is required for ground vehicles to be able to legally launch and fly in public airspace. The Switchblade from Samson Sky apparently received approval from the FAA for flight testing in July.
Testing the Switchblade Flying Sports Car
Companies hoping to get their flying car designs authorized still confront a significant obstacle, even with more clarity from the FAA and other regulators. By first pursuing air certification outside of the United States, notably in Asia and Europe, Alef seeks to hasten the regulatory process. They can compile a safety record and gather information for the FAA certification procedure in the United States in this way.
According to reports, the Model A is approved as a Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV), which would limit its top speed on public highways to about 25 miles per hour. The business has declared its aim to produce a less expensive Model Z by 2030, with a $35,000 starting price. The CEO of the firm stated that the proposed Model Z would be "not more complicated than a Toyota Corolla," and as a result, should be priced similarly.
Sounds like an oversimplification. Making a mass-produced car, like the Corolla, into a legal aircraft is not a simple task. If we could actually produce a flying vehicle like that in the next two years, it would be a remarkable feat.
Fiat Chrysler and China's Xpeng are two significant firms competing to be the first to release a flying car on the market. Since 2020, Hyundai and Uber have been developing a concept for a flying taxi, and Hyundai subsidiary Supernal has declared aspirations to commercially release a flying pod by 2028. Elon Musk has visions for a Cybertruck turning into a hovercraft, but no serious plans from the Tesla maker to get his cars airborne.