Are we witnessing the dawn of the flying car?
As the world’s motoring brands look towards a future filled with electric cars, some have also focused their attention to the skies. Volkswagen for one has launched a ‘state-of-the-art passenger drone prototype,’ or a fully working automated electric flying car. The prototype marks the German car maker’s first step into the world of aircraft design and development.
The aircraft is dubbed Flying Tiger because of both its black-and-gold livery and the fact that it is launched in the Year of the Tiger.
It has been made by the company’s Chinese division, Volkswagen China, in collaboration with Chinese aviation manufacturer Sunward and British design consultancy Tangerine.
Features of the Volkswagen electric flying car
In a statement, Volkswagen China said that Flying Tiger is an electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) prototype. VTOLs are aircraft that can land, take-off and hover vertically. All helicopters are VTOL-type aircraft but some fighter jets, such as F-35B Lightning II, are also examples of the type.
The Flying Tiger has been produced as part of the Vertical Mobility project launched in 2020 by Volkswagen China to “explore the next generation of mobility solutions, including the urban air mobility market and the extension of urban traffic into airspace.”
According to the company, the prototype has a luxury x-wing configuration measuring 11.2m in length and 10.6m in width. There are eight rotors helping the prototype aircraft in vertical lift. Two propellers assist in horizontal flight.
The company said that tests on the prototype will be carried out through 2022, before it is subjected to even more advanced test flights in 2023.
Once the vehicle is finally ready, it will be able to carry four passengers plus luggage up to a distance of 200km.
Who might use Flying Tiger
Dr. Stephan Wöllenstein, CEO of Volkswagen Group China, said: “The launch of this stunning validation model – the V.MO – is the first of many remarkable milestones on our exciting journey towards urban air travel, and a perfect example of our ‘From China, For China’ mission.”
In the statement, the company said that in its first phase, the Flying Tiger is likely to be pitched to the high-net worth tech-savvy Chinese customers as a premium product for use as VIP air shuttle services.
The idea of commercial flying taxi services has been drawing more interest in recent years. A self-piloted passenger drone by Boeing completed its first test flight in 2019. British automobile company Aston Martin, South Korean car maker Hyundai and Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng are also among those who have set their eyes on flying cars.
(Main and Featured image courtesy: Volkswagen AG)