Despite the timing, this is not an April Fool’s joke: if all goes to plan, flying cars could soon be a familiar sight in cities across the world.
Silicon Valley-based Mix Aerospace has developed a plan for a vehicle that functions both as a car and a personal flying machine, which it has named Skylys. The company is seeking funding through Indiegogo to make the project a reality.
While the idea may seem technologically remote, the company already has a complete design as well as a number of patents and backing from key figures in the aerospace industry.
If enough funding is attracted, a prototype should be ready by 2017.
Skylys will fly in a similar way to a helicopter, using a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) system integrated into a set of wings, meaning that it could be flown by anyone with a helicopter licence. Once it lands, the wings will detach, turning it into a road-legal car that can be driven as normal.
Although flying cars are traditionally a staple of retrofuturistic city concepts, the company believes that there is huge potential for the technology in the real world.
Writing on its Indiegogo project page, the company said: “A lot of people want to believe in flying cars but find it hard to grasp the reality of the situation, pushing the idea back to science fiction and out of reach. We strongly believe that the time is right, there are uses for such a vehicle.”
Initially Mix sees Skylys being used by police, fire and ambulance services, and believes it could play a major role in disaster situations such as Hurricane Katrina, where it could have airlifted people from flooded areas of New Orleans.
It also sees it as a potential vehicle for private individuals: it could replace private chauffer services in cities where traffic congestion is a problem, and could land on buildings in skyscraper-rich cities such as Dubai.
Long-term we’d like to think it will be accessible to normal people, but for now it is likely to be restricted to the super wealthy. Funders can pre-order a vehicle now, although with the incredibly hefty price tag of €1m we don’t expect many takers.
The Indiegogo campaign, which started yesterday, has a target of €2.25m but is using flexible funding, meaning that the company will keep any money raised even if it does not hit the final goal.
The project seems in part to be to raise enough money to recruit engineering staff and boost awareness so that the company can attract venture capital financing and build an international marketing platform to sell to the wealthy elite.
Update: This article has been updated to reflect a change on the Indiegogo website which originally stated the cost to receive a prototype was €1bn – since publication this has been changed to €1m.
Images courtesy of Mix Aerospace.