With giants like Alphabet and Uber working towards taking your four-wheelers to the aerial way, the fantasy (or not-so-fantasy) flying cars are soon going to be a reality. While several companies are at it, a Silicon Valley startup has already jump-started its flying car project, and has developed a prototype that it claims anyone can fly.
Dubbed “BlackFly,” the vehicle is the world’s first ultralight all-electric fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, according to Palo Alto-based Opener. It’s a single-seat Personal Aerial Vehicle (PAV), which requires no formal licensing or special skills to operate in the US.
“OPENER will be introducing this innovation in a controlled and responsible manner,” Marcus Leng, the company CEO, said in a statement. “Even though not required by FAA regulations, BlackFly operators will be required to successfully complete the FAA Private Pilot written examination and also complete company-mandated vehicle familiarization and operator training.”
Tried and tested
Although BlackFly has full amphibious capabilities, it is primarily designed to easily operate from small grassy areas and travel distances of up to 40 miles (64.4 kilometres) at a speed of 72 mph (115.9 kph). In the US, it is restricted to travel up to 25 miles (40 kilometres) at a speed of 62 mph (100 kph).
“At Opener, we designed a new aircraft with safety as our highest priority. Fitted with triple-modular redundant flight systems, control surfaces, and sensors, our aircraft provides a new way to confidently take to the skies,” the company said in its website.
BlackFly, which consumes less energy than a traditional electric car, is equipped with eight propulsion systems that are spread across two wings, providing for a multiple-failure security. The car went through nine years of continuous testing, including over 1,400 flights covering over 12,000 miles (19,312 kilometres).
BlackFly’s battery can be recharged in less than 30 minutes. The company said that its long-term vision goal was to integrate these vehicles into rural or urban commuting networks that would be powered by renewable energy sources.
Take a look at BlackFly in action in the video below: