Flying cars: transforming a dream into reality

Author:Catherine Jewell
Position:Communications Division, WIPO
SUMMARY

Ever been caught in a traffic jam and dreamed of being able to take to the skies? A flying car maybe? Surely that’s just a flight of fancy, something that “M” might come up with for the next James Bond extravaganza. Not so! For the past 20 years, Stefan Klein, a Slovakian flying enthusiast with a flair for marrying design with innovation and a strong business sense, has been working to turn that... (see full summary)

 
FREE EXCERPT

Like many great innovators, Stefan Klein began this venture in his garage, at home in Nitra, Slovakia. In the early days, with the help of his family he developed two prototypes – AeroMobil 1.0 and AeroMobil 2.0. But in 2010, things really took off when he joined forces with entrepreneur and angel investor Juraj Vaculík to form AeroMobil. Juraj Vaculík is now CEO of the company and “really believes that our vehicle has the potential to transform personal transport,” AeroMobil’s Chief Operating Officer, Ladislav Batik, told WIPO Magazine.

Since its formation, the company has produced two additional prototypes – AeroMobil 2.5 and AeroMobil 3.0. The current prototype, AeroMobil 3.0, took just ten months to develop. The ready availability of high-grade composite materials and other advanced technologies and the expertise of AeroMobil’s engineers made such rapid progress possible, Mr. Batik explains.

So what exactly is a flying car? “We are building a vehicle that both operates as a car and as an airplane, with no compromises between these two modes of transport,” explains Mr. Batik. “We don’t simply want to make a good plane that can drive on the roads; we want to make a vehicle that operates perfectly both as a car and as a plane.”

Challenges

This is no mean feat given the competing technical needs of each mode of transport. “Combining these two modes of transport has been our biggest challenge, because by their nature, each one is fighting against the other. For example, the plane needs to be as light and as narrow as possible, it needs to be aerodynamic and to have lift, whereas the car needs to have downforce and to be heavy and wide so that it is stable on the road. But our prototype 3.0 proves that it is possible to combine both modes,” Mr. Batik says.

Beyond the technical challenges, the engineers also have to find technical and design solutions to ensure compliance with current automobile and aerospace legislation. “Today, now that we have proven the concept and are starting to develop an experimental vehicle, we need to take the vehicle apart piece by piece to ensure that it meets all statutory requirements in terms of design, safety and so on. For example, to be effective the propeller needs to be as sharp as possible, but when the vehicle is operating in car mode, by law for safety reasons, sharp edges are not allowed. So we have to think about what to do with the propeller when the vehicle is stationery or on the road. Similarly, a...

To continue reading

REQUEST YOUR TRIAL