Flying car prototypes will take centre stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week.
Among the innovations on display at the annual technology event will be designs from startup firm NFT and a scaled-down version from Toyota.
Despite formidable hurdles over safety and cost, the global competition to develop flying cars is fast beginning to gain traction.
Talk of flying cars will be growing at the Consumer Electronics Show with some designs to be on display such as this image from Cartivator backed by Toyota with the Japanese automaker looking launch a flying car in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
WHAT IS CES?
The Consumer Electronics Show is an annual technology convention that takes place in Las Vegas.
The show typically takes place in early January.
It attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees from all over the world, as well as thousands of tech firms, startups and entrepreneurs.
Companies show off their latest innovations, ranging from the latest robots, autonomous vehicles and smart assistant-equipped gadgets.
In Japan, Toyato backed Cartivator group volunteers are building a ‘Skydrive’ flying car.
They have set their sights on using one to light the flame at the opening of the Olympic games in Tokyo in 2020.
A scaled-down replica is to be shown at CES.
Several companies, including Uber and start-ups backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, are working on people-carrying drones or similar flying vehicles.
Major international names, including American ride-hailing giant Uber, Amazon and European aircraft maker Airbus, are working on the vehicles, which say they could help reduce traffic and aid emergency response to disasters.
Aerospace firm NFT are developing a flying vehicle in Israel and California will have a prototype on display at the event.
Co-founders Maki and Guy Kaplinsky are ‘working to marry a plane with a car’, meaning no airports or heliports would be needed.
They say they believe they have a low cost winning design that will enable them to make the ‘Model-T of flying cars’, ready to demonstrate next year.
NFT co-founder Guy Kaplinsky poses with a model propeller before a curtain concealing work the startup is doing on a flying car in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View, with a presentation expected at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas
Made by Ford, the Model-T is regarded as the first affordable automobile which paved the way for car travel for the modern middle-class American.
The start-up has a team of veteran aviation engineers at the facility in Israel who the founders say are focused on research to eventually design hardware and software while enlisting original equipment manufacturers to crank out products at scale.
They say they will learn from Tesla’s mistakes and focus on the technology and collaborate with companies on assembly.
‘We learned from Tesla that Elon Musk spent too much time on the production side,’ Mr Kaplinsky said.
‘We are spending our time on the technology side and will partner with companies on assembly.’
The NFT vehicle has a projected price tag of $50,000 (£39,000) will function as a car, but will be able to take off or land vertically and fly on auto-pilot.
A number of designs for flying cars have been unveiled including the ‘Pop.up next’ by Audi, italdesign and Airbus seen at the Geneva International Motor Show on March 6, 2018
NFT say they aim to build a prototype and form alliances with major corporations to ‘make mass production of the flying car a reality’.
‘Our approach is more for the mom and three kids; you load everyone in the car one time and get where you need to go,’ Mr Kaplinsky said.
A smartphone mapping application could be paired to a navigation center hosted in the internet cloud, routing drivers to takeoff points and providing instructions to auto-pilots in cars.
The electric powered NFT vehicle is targeting ranges of 310 miles flying (500 km) and 60 miles driving (100 km).
Mr Kaplinsky said the startup is seeking US Federal Aviation Administration approval as early as 2024.
Uber is showed off its latest ‘flying car’ concept at at its second annual Elevate conference in Los Angeles in May. International names, including the ride-hailing giant are working on the vehicles, which say they could help reduce traffic and aid emergency response to disasters
Gartner automotive analyst Mike Ramsey says autonomous flying vehicles are coming, but won’t disrupt the way people travel.
Mr Ramsey said cost, regulation, and battery life are just a few of the hurdles for flying vehicles.
Chinese automotive company Terrafugia, which belongs to the parent company of Volvo, are already set to put their first flying car on the market.
According to Terrafugia, the two-seat ‘transition craft’, which can switch between driving and flying modes in less than a minute, are already taking orders from customers.
WHAT IS TERRAFUGIA’S ‘TRANSITION’ CRAFT?
Terrafugia’s Transition was recently granted an exemption by the FAA, allowing it to be classified as a ‘light-sport’ craft, according to the Washington Post.
The aircraft has fold-out wings, weigh roughly 1,300 pounds, and have fixed landing gear.
The hybrid-electric motor has an internal combustion engine and a lithium phosphate chemistry battery, which Terrafugia says is ‘much safer than other lithium’ batteries
They seat a maximum of two people, including the pilot.
To operate them, one must have a sport pilot certificate, which requires just 20 hours of training.
The craft reaches a cruise speed of 100 mph, and can achieve a range of 400 miles.
And, it can fly to a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet.