Commercial

Flying Cars Give Auto Industry Chance to Buy Possible Place in the Sky

By S.L. Fuller | July 7, 2017
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Image courtesy of AirspaceX

Is it riskier to invest in proverbial “flying cars” now before the concept has proven its feasibility, or to wait until the industry takes off and the best opportunity may have passed? The definitive answer may not be revealed until years from now. But the idea of cars that can transition to VTOL aircraft, and vice versa, has caught the attention of many parties willing to take that chance. The flying car gives the automobile industry an entry into the aviation market.

Terrafugia is one of several companies pursuing development of a new generation of VTOL aircraft, and several news reports say Volvo’s parent company, Geely, is looking to buy it.

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June 3, Associated Press reported that Toyota is backing a startup that aims to have a flying car light the Olympic torch in 2020. The carmaker reportedly invested $386,000 in Cartivator Resource Management to work on the project, called “Sky Drive.”

Uber, known for its ridesharing app, unveiled its Elevate project in April. It plans to develop a network of “urban mobility” VTOL aircraft, routes and vertiports in the next several years in Dallas/Fort Worth and Dubai. Such initiatives will be among the new and disruptive technology discussed at R&WI’s Rotorcraft Business and Technology Summit Sept. 20 and 21 in Fort Worth, Texas.

During Uber’s Elevate Summit, Detroit Aircraft’s Jon Rimanelli unveiled a new company. Rimanelli is founder and CEO of AirspaceX, which received funding from a U.S.-based automotive original equipment manufacturer that he left unnamed.

“When we talk about delivering a new experience in air mobility, we really think about what the passenger is going to be able to enjoy when he or she utilizes our vehicle,” Rimanelli said. “And this is all designed so you can drive less, do more. I think together — in this ecosystem that Uber is building — we’ll be able to connect cities, suburbs and surrounding areas like never before.”

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