The flying car might not be a reality yet, but we’re getting one step closer. Most people know Rolls-Royce for their luxury cars, but they’re also one of the largest manufacturers of airplane engines in the world. The company announced this week that it’s been developing an “electric vertical take-off and landing” vehicle (EVTOL), which will carry four to five people, reach 250 miles per hour, have a range of 500 miles, and offer a solution for cities congested with traffic. Rolls-Royce insists that most of the technology to make the vehicle already exists, and projects a launch date in the early 2020s.
EVTOL would enter the skies by tilting its wings 90 degrees, allowing for take-off and landing, with four of the six propellers folding away into the wings once cruising altitude has been reached, to minimize drag and noise in the cabin. Although the technology might be ready by the 2020, Rolls-Royce says it’s still looking for partners in the airframe business, since the company’s specialty is usually limited to engine manufacturing. They hope to eventually compete with major aircraft manufacturers like Airbus and Uber, both of which are developing their own versions of the flying taxi.
The most progress in the field, however, is being made by a little-known company in Dubai. Last September, the Dubai Roads and Transportation Association, partnering with German company Volocopter, successfully tested a two-seater drone taxi. They hope to have the drone taxies up-and-running within the next five years.
Flying cars have always been associated with the technological advances of a distant future, but now it seems that future might be closer than we thought.
H/T: Condé Nast Traveler