Of course you remember the DeLorean car from Back to the Future. At the end of the 1985 movie, it didn’t just speed off into the distance—it flew away after Doc Brown’s infamous line, “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” If Paul DeLorean has his way, Back to the Future won’t be science fiction. It will be a documentary.
According to Wired, DeLorean, founder of DeLorean Aerospace—nephew of automaker John DeLorean, founder of the DeLorean Motor Company—has plans to develop a flying car, that is, one with vertical takeoff and landing ability. The prototype should be developed within a year.
DeLorean’s “personal air transportation vehicle” is a two-seater with two pairs of wings, two winglets, and two fans, which makes it look like a funky yet improbable drone. Wired writes the DR-7 is 20 feet long and 18.5 feet wide, but the wings fold themselves, so you can park it in your garage.
Unlike the gas-guzzling cars of the past and present (and the garbage-guzzling DeLorean of the movie), the DR-7 craft will be electric. It will also be a “self-driving” vehicle, which means it’s as simple as hopping in and turning it on. This is becoming more likely with the advent of longer-lived batteries and platform stability.
Just as important, there’s a market for flying cars, as Uber has promised to bring them to the Middle East in three years. There is also competition, as Neva Aviation and Airbus are developing their own flying cars, the AirQuadOne and Vahana, respectively. DeLorean plans to one-up this competition with a craft that flies at a higher altitude with a longer range (120 miles per charge).
However, if DeLorean solves the DR-7’s technology and battery challenges, there is still the very real challenge of air safety, which needs regulation.
Even if Doc Brown doesn’t need roads, he certainly needs air-traffic controllers.