It’s a car. It’s a plane. It’s both? An Australian start up is building a prototype of a flying car that could potentially park in your garage, and literally take up off the ground and fly to a vertical landing point. The five-seat driving car acts as an electric aircraft and has been dubbed Macchina Volantis, according to New Atlas.
This VTOL has retractable and folding wings that allow it to drive on the road like a car and also fly in the air. With winged flight mode and a diesel range extender, the company says it can fly three times that of highway speed.
The inspiration behind this innovation comes from creator of the vehicle, Stephen Fries, who is sick of traffic and believes a road-drivable, electric VTOL craft is the solution to our congested streets.
Fries has planned for a large cabin with five seats and a carrying capacity that allows riders to bring 55 lb of luggage onboard.
As a vehicle on the road, it can ride at 37 mph. The design shows an enclosed trike with two back wheels and a steerable wheel. But mainly, the craft is designed for the sky, not the highway. When it takes off, it can take off from almost anywhere and achieve cruising speed within 100 seconds using ducted fans and wing lift.
The ‘Flighting Mode’ encompasses a vertical takeoff and landing capability with auto hover mode. Essentially, it flies like a normal small plane, ceiling at 10,000 ft. When it’s time for this thing to fly, the top wing emerges from its space and the bottom wings fold down. The ducted fans at each corner have 80 hp electric motors. Covers on the lower wing slide back and reveal two sets of ducted fans, so there are a total of 12 motors. This allows the vehicle to handle a high power load of vertical takeoff and land the almost 4,000 lb. airframe. Fries says the aircraft is capable of speeds up to 173 mph and a range of 1,000 miles.
The ‘Road Vehicle Mode’ collapses the wings and folds them to reduce the width so it can conform to a normal vehicle.
A few safety features include a built-in redundancy on ducted fan capacity, stall speeds, a ballistic parachute for emergency landing, and a triple redundancy on flight control system.
When talking to New Atlas, Fries seems pretty confident that this prototype has the means to come to fruition. Although he’s never built an aircraft before, he called himself a “serial problem solver,” and said he’s been designing and fixing boats his entire life. Although a boat is no flying plane, Fries definitely believes in his skills, team, and the Macchina Volantis.
“I’m quite au fait with this. I designed it in a freeware piece of software from NASA, aerospace software, so that’s how I know it flies. About this time last year we gave it to an aerospace company in Perth, and they third-party accredited the entire design,” said Fries. “We know it can be done. The ducts are available, you can currently buy them. The electric motors, we know we can get them. The batteries are available, in the sizes we need them. Better and cheaper ones will probably be available by the time we build it, so we prefer not to nominate anything in particular at this time.”
Fries said funds will be the determining factor on bringing this driveable aircraft to the world.