What was once considered the stuff of a far off humanity existing only in the minds of science fiction writers is now on the verge of becoming a reality. Or at least it appears that way if one looks at what large corporations and big investors are doing these days. Currently some 20 companies are developing flying car plans.

Flying cars may be on a street near you in the next decade, at least in some parts of the world.  Fleet operated flying taxis probably, but perhaps the odd CEO or neighbour might have one as well.

A series of articles appeared in the last week commenting upon the possibility of a flying car future and discussing recent developments in the marketplace where firms are preparing to build and test these vehicles in real life conditions.

In an overview piece, The Economist tells us small hybrid-electric airliners are ready for take off. “Dozens of firms are working on electrically powered planes of all shapes and sizes. Some resemble flying cars….others are hovering, drone-like machines that could operate as autonomous aerial taxis.”

In a major development, Zhejiang Geely, the Chinese automaker that owns Volvo, announced ti will acquire Terrafugia, a US-based startup company working on the development of a flying car. The US firm plans to introduce its first flying car to the market by 2019 and its first vertical take-off and landing flying car is expected to be available by 2023. Terrafugia expects to benefit from Geely’s expertise and track record of innovation within the worldwide auto industry. Geely controls the Volvo, Lynk & Co., Geely and Lotus brands. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group founder and chairman Li Shufu said:

“Terrafugia is ideally positioned to change mobility as we currently understand it. Our investment in the company reflects our commitment to extend our full support to Terrafugia, leveraging the synergies provided by our international operations and track record of innovation, to make the flying car a reality.”

See BloombergChina Gives Flying Cars a Real Boost and Business InsiderThe Chinese company that owns Volvo just bought the most famous flying-car company in the world

Uber’s CEO says we can expect flying cars in 5 years. Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC (see video) that his company is investing in these vehicles and they should appear within 5 years. The ride-hailing company said that it’s planning to test flying taxis in Los Angeles as well as at the Dubai and Dallas-Fort Worth airports by 2020. In conjunction with these tests, Uber has signed an agreement with NASA  to help develop traffic systems for its flying car project. Uber wants to make vertical take-off and landing vehicles that will fly at a low altitude. It also signed partnerships with aircraft manufacturers and real estate companies to figure out where the take off and landing sites for the flying cars could be, including from the roof’s of office towers. Uber will be calling its new airborne taxi service, UberAir.

European aerospace manufacturer Airbus announced it will test its Vahana electric ‘flying car’ by the end of this year. The vertical take-off and landing aircraft would be used to fly from rooftop to rooftop in dense cities where traffic is often at a standstill. A prototype is to be tested in the US by the end of the year and the company hopes to have a production-ready version by 2020.

UK firm NeoXCraft is working to have a two-man flying vehicle in commercial production by 2020. Carrying 180 kilograms of load, the vehicle could reach airborne speeds of up to 180 knots (210 mph)  and fly for up to an hour at between 1,000 feet and 3,000 feet. It runs on electric power and comes with a built-in parachute. Daniel Hayes, CEO and co-founder, said:

“It can take off vertically from your driveway, garden or wherever it’s safe,  You can then land and use the road for the final part of your journey, get out and go into your workplace, and the car will park itself. It takes away congestion.”

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