The flying car has been the stuff of science fiction legend for decades, featured in movies, television, and video games as a must-have staple of visions of the future.
US aircraft maker Boeing Co and Volkswagen’s Porsche sports car division have teamed up to work on a concept of what they’re calling a ‘premium urban air mobility vehicle'.In a press release, the German automaker explained the concept and Boeing signed a memorandum of understand to jointly “explore the premium urban air mobility market and the extension of urban traffic into airspace. With this partnership, both companies will leverage their unique market strengths and insights to study the future of premium air mobility vehicles.”
Porsche and Boeing flying car concept.
Porsche had previously announced research into flying car taxis. Meanwhile, Boeing recently carried out the first test flight for a vertical takeoff vehicle with capacity for two to four passengers and an 80 km range.
The two companies did not provide any information about how many resources will be invested into the project, or any specs on the vehicle, its price range or possible delivery date.
Detlev von Platen, sales and marketing board member at Porsche, said the flying car project was aimed at “enhancing” Porsche’s “scope as a sports car manufacturer by becoming a leading brand for premium mobility,” with these plans possibly meaning “moving into the third dimension of travel” over the long term.Steve Nordlund, vice president of Boeing NeXt, the aerospace giant’s next gen tech-related enterprise, said the collaboration with Porch would build on the company’s “efforts to develop a safe and efficient new mobility ecosystem, and provides an opportunity to investigate the development of a premium urban air mobility vehicle with a leading automotive brand.”
Both companies are working to polish up their reputations amid issues with Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft, with the model grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes. Volkswagen and Porsche, meanwhile, have faced their own problems following a diesel emissions scandal in which the German auto giant was revealed to have manipulated the emissions data of its diesel vehicles.
Over half a dozen companies big and small are working on flying car prototypes, among them Airbus, Uber, AeroMobil, Zee.Aero, Terrafugia, EHang, Joby Aviation and Russia’s Siberian Aeronautical Research Institute.
The concept of flying cars has been around since the 1930s, being born not long after humanity began mastering the concept of air travel itself. The idea enjoyed an explosion of interest through the late 20th century thanks to shows and animation like the Jetsons and the Animatrix, and films including Blade Runner, Back to the Future and The Fifth Element. However, a number of factors including cost, safety concerns, and questions about the vehicles’ source of power have held back their development and adoption.