Zipping through the air, skirting jams and road blocks – most of us have probably indulged in this dream while tied to the tarmac and stuck in traffic. Luckily for us, a slew of innovative projects are planning to make this sci-fi staple reality: Say hello to the flying car of tomorrow.

PAL-V

Up to 160 km/h on the road and 180 km/h in the air, plus a staggering reach of 1,300 kilometers on the ground or approx. 400 km in the air – the PAL-V “Liberty” knows how to grab our collective attention. Short for “personal air and land vehicle,” the first 20 specimen of this Dutch invention are slated for delivery in late 2018. Interested?

Then better be quick (and wealthy): The final product will retail for €499,000 and requires a €25,000 deposit. The vehicle’s sophisticated engineering and design promises to be worth it, though. Expect state-of-the-art tilting technology for motorbike-style driving on the ground and the latest gyrocopter frills in the air with a strong power source for propulsion as well as a stabilizing, fold-away rotor.

A few final caveats: Taking Liberty for a spin requires a private pilot’s license. And don’t expect to be able to take off from the nearest highway – that’s still only allowed on certified airstrips.

the PAL-V “Liberty"
The Dutch PAL-V will fly in 2018.
Photo: PAL-V
a red gyrocopter in a street
Photo: PAL-V
gyrocopter in front ot the Brandenburg Gate
Photo: PAL-V

Airbus

At the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, Airbus and renowned Italian design agency Italdesign introduced their take on an autonomous electric combined land-and-air taxi. Their “pop.up” concept comprises a two-person carbon cab suitable for attaching to a dedicated driving or flying module.

Should this vision become reality, passengers will be able to hail the vehicle by app. The system automatically checks whether ground or air transport makes more sense and attaches the cabin to the right module type before setting off to fetch its passengers. While Airbus has supplied the necessary aviation expertise, Italdesign came up with the sleek exterior.

At the same time, and at the time of writing, “pop.up” seems to be mostly for show – whether it will ever take to the streets (or air) remains uncertain and to be seen.

AeroMobil

First things first: With its sports car front and airplane rear, this Slovakian flying car looks very, very impressive. Its engineers and designers have been working on their concept since 1989 and predecessor prototypes have been swishing through the air for years.

Now, with version 4.0, AeroMobil has announced an actual serial production model, starting in 2020. Like some of our other examples here, the AeroMobil design sports folding wings and aims for light aircraft certification.

On the ground, two electric engines accelerate it to 160 km/h while a 300 hp turbo combustion engine guarantees airspeeds of up to 360 km/h and 750 kilometers of reach. At the same time, and with its €1 million (or more) price tag, the AeroMobil 4.0 probably won’t revolutionize mass transit.

But fans love its supremely elegant and luxurious in- and exterior and appreciate the two integrated parachutes, a relatively recent addition attributed to a 2015 incident when a prototype pilot was forced to abandon his craft 300 meters above the ground. No need to fret if you’re interested in the latest iteration, though: Extensive testing should have eliminated any further issues.

flying vehicle with sports car front and airplane rear
Slovakian sleekness: The AeroMobil will be produced in series in 2020.
Photo: Aeromobil
yellow grey Aeromobil
Photo: Aeromobil
futuristic car with folding wings
Photo: Aeromobil

Nirvana Gyrodrive

Nirvana have managed to achieve something that still eludes most avid tinkerers: Their Gyrodrive is cleared for regular street use – at least in the Czech Republic where this hybrid invention was born. Not quite a flying car, their Gyrodrive is actually a so-called gyroplane, i. e. a small and light helicopter with space for two people seated behind each other.

Adding a ground transportation component for versatility, two vertical airplane propellers complete the clever set-up: Whenever pilots feel like swapping the air for the nearest road, they only need to secure the rotor blades. And although the Gyrodrive excels at lofty heights, it can reach up to 40 km/h on terra firma – enough for a quick trip across the city.

Once airborne, it manages an impressive 180 km/h with an overall reach of 600 kilometers. According to Gyrodrive founder and owner Pavel Brezina, this transport chameleon will cost just under €60,000.

Carplane

If you find yourself in the city center of Braunschweig, Germany, don’t be surprised if you come across an eye-catching vehicle with twin hulls and wings folded in towards the center. Its manufacturer, Carplane, has received both air and road approval for its eponymous prototype, so this flying car comes with a standard number plate.

Powered by a 150 hp gasoline engine, the 750 kg Carplane reaches up to 170 km/h on the road or 220 km/h among the clouds. And while the designers and engineers have, for now, rejected the previously planned inclusion of additional electric engines inside the hub – mostly, to keep the overall weight down – there’s still plenty to be admired.

A clever folding concept not only keeps the wings out of the way, but even creates welcome downthrust to improve road holding. Just when this particular flying car will be available is still unknown, but feel free to start saving: The estimated price point of the Carplane will be around the €200,000 mark.

Carplane with twin hulls and wings
Officially registered as car and airplane: the German Carplane.
Photo: Carplane GmbH
flying car Carplane
Photo: Carplane GmbH
a prototype of Carplane
Photo: Carplane GmbH
Carplane at an airport
Photo: Carplane GmbH