A taxonomy of the many choices in flying cars

Hoverbikes are their own special category

There are over 100 companies out there developing small VTOL "flying cars." And they're all making different decisions on several important design choices. I've written a breakdown of the key design decisions and what they mean, which forms a sort of taxonomy.

Check out my taxonomy of flying cars on the Forbes.com site.


What about the Samson Sky Switchblade - the winning solution for the STOL option. It is a true "flying car" with sports car specs in driving mode and fold out fixed wing solution for flight. Did you look at that one? Its been getting quite the word of mouth and already has almost 1000 reservations.

As I said there are over 100 firms making these so I mainly did a taxonomy. This vehicle has yet to fly, and it is (in principle) like the Terrafugia Transition, a folding wing, conventional fixed wing aircraft. I barely included those at all, because I think the real revolution is in VTOL.

You might want to check out Where Is My Flying Car, Appendix F. (Click my website for pointer and overview.)

The Vahana and the blackfly are certainly interesting.
It will be interesting to see how the tilt body works when it is scaled up to say a 4 or even 8 seat configuration. A longer fuselage for 4 passengers can presumably still support the takeoff and landing attitude. Obviously hardening is required along a critical section on underside of the fuselage to support the partial weight when going through the takeoff/landing rotation. The further toward the tail the lighter the strength required as the aircraft approaches takeoff angle and full lift is available.
I imagine that the tilt wing approach is ultimately more aerodynamically efficient as I doubt that even at only 50 knots a 30 degree angle of attack is optimal so this will be interesting to watch.
Maybe self leveling seats will be tried for the tilt-body approach, at the expense of space efficiency and therefore some weight penalty?

Because batteries are at the limit right now, most all-electric vehicles are sticking to 1-2 passengers. Those looking at larger configurations are doing hybrid fuel.

The Blackfly is one of the first to fly in a serious way because it's so simple. I am sure the design could handle a moving seat in the future. But its range is small and it carries only one -- it will be more recreational and for people with hard to access country homes at first, I think.

Not quite sure where I can fit it, perhaps along the side of the fuselage.
Once the range is up to 100km, 50km each way, there is no surf spot out of my reach!
I think it even floats, just need an anchor that doesn't weigh more than a couple of kilos.

Yes, it would need a pretty light anchor. No, it does not currently have that range but it might in time. Though if you pause at an electric car fast charge station that can be landed at...

There is no chance of a flying car being able to lift Brad Templeton off the ground.

You have the same mindset about this issue. No error, no omission! Very grateful reading some would write myself. Thanks! Hoping another 100 new and more diverse exemplaries to complete a richer taxonomy. Agree about the winner. But I over all I miss more audicity!

You could divide the contenders into short-term vs. long-term favorites, because it's hard to deny the power of Airbus (CityAirbus), Boeing and Bell for the long term. Their chosen form factor (similar except for Boeing) also reveals their conclusions are running in parallel.

I'm an artist and engineer who's mission is to make flying cars a reality. Check out my latest blog post.


One question: I heard Sebastian THrun of Kitty Hawk say in a podcast that we have the technology, the issue is just acceptance into society. But this 2019 article makes it sound like the tech is definitely not there. What gives?

The tech is on track, but to a limited degree. Nobody knows how to make an all electric vehicle with long range. But that means they either work on vehicles which do not have long range (which are still useful) or on hybrid power trains which are not all-electric.

And there are still tech challenges -- automation, traffic control, sound and the small question of "making it mature and robust."

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