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For years, flying cars have been future tech, perennially among those elusive evolutions of current technology that always seem to be just over the next horizon. But one team who’s had skin in the game longer than most has just pulled off a big, airworthy milestone with its latest prototype — and fortunately for us, the whole thing is documented on video.
Slovakian company Klein Vision has successfully completed the first-ever test flight of its AirCar hybrid vehicle with a 35-minute jaunt from an airport in the city of Nitra to an airport in Bratislava. The June 28 flight marks the AirCar’s first intercity flight, a feat that comes as a big payoff for a team that’s been working on the concept for the past two decades.
The video below doesn’t skimp on sweet close-ups of the AirCar doing exactly what we’ve all envisioned a flying car is supposed to do: taking to the skies and landing as a plane, before pulling off an incredible transformation that tucks its wings and trades them for conventional wheels.
Check it out now:
Just like a real-life Transformer, the AirCar ends up being much more than first meets the eye. After he safely sets the vehicle back on the tarmac, Klein Vision CEO Stefan Klein switches the craft into its land-based mode, a process the company says (and the video shows) takes less than three minutes and renders the prototype as a truly street-ready car. And it doesn’t need additional retooling to simply switch into gear and drive away.
The company says the model in the video represents its fifth prototype, weighing 1,100 Kg (roughly 2425 pounds) and capable of seating two people (in addition to a carry-on cargo of 200 Kg). Both in the air and on the ground, the AirCar is powered by a BMW 1.6-liter engine rated at an effective power output of 140 horsepower. Though future tests will no doubt assay the claim, Klein Vision also boasts the AirCar can range an estimated 1,000 Km (621 miles) on a single flight.
Because it hews to conventional form factors for each of its travel modes (two wings for the air; four wheels for the ground), the AirCar appears to hold unique potential as a convenient way to expedite travel — no doubt for well-funded users — using infrastructure that’s already in place.
“With AirCar you will arrive at your destination without the hassle of getting a ride to [the] airport and passing through commercial security, you can drive your AirCar to the golf course, the office, the mall, or your hotel, and park it in a normal parking space,” cofounder Anton Zajac explained in the company’s news release.
Timelines for cutting-edge tech are always iffy, but the company says it hopes to have a more powerful 300 horsepower model of the AirCar ready to go to an already-committed buyer “within the next 6 next months” after the craft completes all regulatory hurdles required by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Hopefully we’ll all be trained and ready to take to the cockpit (or do we still call it the driver’s seat?) by the time the AirCar soars into view in our flying-car dreams. Eat your heart out, Bumblebee.