Whilst I usually write gaming articles, I thought it would be interesting to look at something that, at first glance, looks like it should belong in a video game, but is instead science-fiction turned science-fact. The first generation of air cars and air taxis (or “skycars” and “skytaxis”, as I like to call them) are preparing to take flight—no pun intended—and one must begin to think about what the transportation landscape will look like in a decade. This follows the news that the Samson Switchblade flying sports car is almost ready to come onto the market. Almost like something out of a Bond movie, the Switchblade is a road-capable car which can extend a pair of wings and take flight. Sam Bousfield, CEO of Samson, says that It has a top speed of 125mph when in the car configuration, and can fly at a staggering 200mph at a maximum altitude of 13,000 feet. With an estimated market price of 120,000 US dollars and several unique models planned for different climates, it’s easy to see skycars becoming a more common sight in a few years.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Opener have revealed their BlackFly, an amphibious skycar which they have been working on in complete secrecy for the past nine years. Eight rotors are used for propulsion, connected to a battery that allows for up to 25 miles of travel. Unlike the Switchblade, the BlackFly can take off and land vertically, meaning that there is no need for a runway. The craft is designed as a recreational vehicle rather than as a means of transportation, and as such is easily assembled and disassembled for portability. It is designed for ease of use and will feature an autopilot feature, with the FAA saying that pilots of this craft will not require a pilot’s licence.
Numerous other companies around the globe have also begun working on their own skycar projects; Uber has announced their Elevate programme along with the rather drably named “Common Reference Models” or “eCRMs”, a series of designs for skytaxis that will be able to transport four passengers and a pilot up to 2,000 feet into the air between various Uber-operated launch pads. German company Volocopter has been testing their skytaxis in Dubai. Even Aston Martin is throwing their hat into the ring, with concept designs for their own PAVs (personal aviation vehicles) being revealed earlier this week.
With the sheer number of skycars being revealed in such a short space of time, it seems like the ability for us to pilot one is closer than ever before. While from a technological standpoint, it’s an incredible feat of engineering, one must consider the implications this could have on both aviation and road laws around the world. With the freedom of movement that skycars and skytaxis could offer, they will change the way that we manoeuvre the cityscape, and here’s to hoping that they will become commonplace very soon. Happy flying.