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The world's first flying car is here. While it may not really be the first one, it certainly seems like the first production-ready flying car.
Dutch company Pal-V International has revealed the Personal Air and Land Vehicle (PAL-V) Liberty at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show. This is not just another concept of a flying car as it is set to go into production as early as 2019.
The PAL-V Liberty is a three-wheeled flying car that looks like a cross between a helicopter and a motor-tricycle. The front wheel sits neatly inside the body while the vehicle is on the ground. The two-seater vehicle has already been certified in Europe and America for use both on the road and in the air.
It is made entirely of exotic materials like carbon-fibre, titanium and aluminium. As a result, it weighs just 680kg and because of this, it can take off or land in short distances. It requires a 165-metre runway to take off and about 30-metres to land.
Two 100bhp engines power the vehicle, endowing it with the capability of touching a top speed of around 180km/h both on the road and in the air. Buyers of the PAL-V Liberty are required to have a valid driving license and pilot's license.
Lift for flight is provided by rotor blades just like in a helicopter. Unlike a helicopter though, the rotor blades are not powered and work like in a gyroplane. It is the airflow which makes the main lift rotor spin. The airflow is introduced by the forward motion of the vehicle which in turn comes as a result of the propeller blades at the rear pushing the vehicle forward while flying.
The rotors and rudders fold down when the pilot/driver pushes a button, allowing it to be used on the road. On the road, the vehicle uses a tilting system while cornering.
PAL-V is aiming at producing 50-100 vehicles in 2019 depending on demand. The number is expected to grow to a few hundred in 2020. Once produced, each vehicle will have to undergo a minimum testing of 150 hours before receiving certification for delivery.
The PAL-V Liberty can be bought at a price of $600,000 (Rs 3.90 crore). The company will manufacture a cheaper version of the vehicle called the PAL-V Liberty Sport. This is expected to be priced at around $335,000 (Rs 2.18 crore)
Flying cars have been a part of mankind's fantasy ever since the Wright Brothers' first flight. Till now thought there have been no such cars except for a few experimental ones which to be honest would not be very good both on the road and in the sky.
The PAL-V though is promising and has already delivered on most of its promises. We might finally see several flying cars in the skies next year. Would India too get some of these? Well, if the DGCA approves, maybe we can see them in India.