The introduction of commercially feasible flying cars has been incorrectly predicted numerous times over the previous century, but with the popularity of electric vehicles in recent years, the concept appears to be gaining hold again.
Companies committed to developing such products are now sprouting up, and other giant organizations that have another background such as China’s Xpeng, are allocating resources to this ambitious goal.
Xpeng and Flying Cars
Xpeng has formed a separate company called Xpeng HT with the sole purpose of developing eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicles, and the company has now published a video of its prototype’s maiden flight as part of a wider Xpeng presentation in China.
In the video we can see the Flying car drive out of a garage (or hangar), then it is weighed, revealing that it weighs just under 2 metric tonnes (4,400 pounds), before firing up its eight large rotors and taking off.
The test went well, and the vehicle landed safely, with the company noting that it even stopped one or more of the rotors in mid-flight to investigate what would happen if one or more motors failed while the vehicle was in flight.
And if you think this vehicle looks like a regular car with a massive drone affixed to the roof, you’re correct. However, as with certain consumer drones, the arms can be folded away so that they do not protrude when driving the vehicle on the road like a conventional car.
It Flies Just Like a Car !!!
According to Xpeng, you still use the steering wheel when flying, and the experience of guiding it through the air isn’t all that different from driving a car. Aside from the steering wheel, the driver/pilot would need to use a right-hand lever to move the vehicle forward and backward, up and down, and to perform turns and hover.
It’s unclear whether Xpeng intends to put this car into production (it’s camouflaged like a test prototype) or whether it’s just a development prototype for data collection. The company admits that getting a 2-ton vehicle airborne is difficult and that it can’t currently fly more than a few dozen miles on a single charge of its battery, but the test flight was a success, and it is optimistic that it will be able to deliver the world’s first electric vehicle that can both drive and fly.
XPeng X2 First Test Flight
XPeng accomplished the first global public flight of its electric flying car the XPeng X2 at Skydive Dubai.
The XPeng X2 made its first public appearance after passing the unique operational risk assessment and obtaining a special flying authorization from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA). The demonstration flight, which took place on the first day of the GITEX Global tech show at the Dubai World Trade Center, was witnessed by over 150 people.
“XPENG X2’s public display in Dubai represents a significant milestone for XPENG AEROHT and the international achievement of flying cars. Dubai is a world-renowned ‘City of Innovation’, so we decided to hold the X2 first public flight event here. Today’s flight is a major step in XPENG’s exploration of future mobility.” – Brian Gu, Vice Chairman and President of XPeng
XPENG X2 at a glance
- The XPeng X2 is a two-seater flying car
- It is designed for future low-altitude city flights (particularly short-distance journeys such as sightseeing and medical transportation)
- The vehicle has a basic teardrop-shaped design with an enclosed cockpit for efficient aerodynamic performance and a lightweight carbon fiber frame
- The XPeng X2 has two modes of operation: manual and autonomous
- The autonomous is said to provide passengers with a safe and intelligent flying experience by allowing them to start, return and land at the touch of a button
During the demonstration flight, the DCAA evaluators praised the XPeng X2 for its stability and standardization of the entire flight operating procedure. It wasn’t a difficult flight, as the video shows the flying automobile taking off vertically and hovering tens of feet above the ground, much like a drone.