Flying Cars: Finally Here… Kind Of

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PAL-V

Whenever I imagine a flying car, which is quite often for some reason, it usually looks like something out of The Jetsons or Back to the Future. Sadly, today’s flying cars look more like lackluster Transformers.

Not that the newly announced PAL-V One isn’t cool. On the ground, the tiny vehicle runs on three wheels like some kind of car/motorcycle hybrid. Once you find some open space, you simply pop out the tail, lift the rotors and voila — instant  helicopter.

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Well, actually it’s a gyrocopter, which is kind of like a helicopter except that its propeller provides the thrust instead of its rotor. This baby can only fly up to altitudes of 4,000 feet, which means it doesn’t have to deal with all the rules for commercial air traffic. I’m not so sure I’d be too happy seeing one of these things zipping over my car at 112mph, but luckily it’s not commercially available yet so I don’t have to worry about it.

If you’re looking for a roomier flying and driving experience, you might want to save up for the Transition from Terrafugia, which will be shown off at the New York Auto Show. The concept is similar to that of the PAL-V, in that you can fill it up with regular gasoline and drive it on the street before taking off.

It’s not exactly a speed demon on the road, but it does look more comfortable than the PAL-V in that you aren’t jammed into a tiny cockpit. Otherwise, it flies in a very similar way, with wings instead of rotors providing the lift. Check out our previous coverage of the Transition here.

Which brings us back to my initial disappointment: We nerds don’t want existing technologies cleverly jammed together; we want cool new flying technology like in Blade Runner and The Fifth Element. Get on it, crazy white-haired scientists of the world.

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