Could this Australian-designed flying car be the future of urban transport?
Written on the 17 December 2019 by David Simmons
If you grew up watching the Jetsons you're probably quite disappointed we are still not zooming around the skies just to get to the supermarket.
The promise of flying cars is one of those undeniable markers of a utopian future; one without car lanes and traffic jams.
A new Australian project appears to be one step closer to making flying cars a reality, and the team is backed by some pretty clever organisations.
The Australian concept from Macchina Volantis is considered to be the flying car design most suitable to be put into production as one of the world's first vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) machines for urban use.
The project has received nods from some heavy hitters including the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney recognising the potential of the project.
Macchina Volantis, Latin for 'flying car' has been developed in partnership with app developer Elegant Media.
The car is capable of vertical take-off and landing and can carry people and cargo over short to medium distances.
The vehicle might be in the skies sooner than expected, with Macchina Volantis currently in discussions regarding adoption of the design.
According to Macchina Volantis operations and development manager David Taylor, the future is now.
"Flying cars are not a thing of the future, they are in development today," says Taylor.
"As early as 2025, our urban and inter-urban air spaces in cities such as Sydney, Los Angeles and London will incorporate 'flying cars' which will navigate with autonomously driven cargo and ride share VTOL."
With congestion becoming a major problem in urban spaces around the world, Taylor believes the solution is taking to the skies.
"The airways at lower levels are basically underutilised as 'highways in the air'. Our ground roads are already over-congested and allow for pedestrian green spaces for city inhabitants."
It's a perspective that is backed by serial entrepreneur Steve Baxter, who has previously called on the Queensland state government to look to the skies.
"We have to stop building roads. We spend $4 billion to $7 billion every year in Queensland alone on building and expanding roads to make us suffer less," says Baxter.
"This is a ridiculous amount of money to basically make our road system just suck a bit less.
"From where I live in Brisbane to where I often work, it's about 22 kilometres. That's all. But some days it takes me an hour to travel that far on the road.
"Four to six billion dollars on roads. Look up and the solution should be obvious."
"Let the entrepreneurs take this one on. It will happen and it will happen quickly."
Macchina Volantis' concept is now in the final stages of pre-production, and once it can nail the VTOL aspect of the vehicle it will inch closer to reality.
Version one of the flying car will carry both cargo and people over periods of 15 minutes to two hours, able to ferry people from home to work and back from warehouse destinations to ports.
The initial edition of Macchina Volantis will be a piloted vehicle, but the company intends for the car to be fully autonomous eventually.
"Depending on how our negotiations go with these expert companies our conclusions could enable Australia to become the place where early adopters and enthusiasts set the demand for evolved VTOL and spark a need for locally manufactured product and regulations," says Taylor.
"Wouldn't it be great, if Australia were to become the electronic VTOL manufacturing capital of the world. I'd like to believe this could really happen."
"We know we have the best product. We are now confirming that our design is considered a benchmark with the help of The University of Sydney, UTS and Monash University who have been involved in this ground-breaking task for many years."
"We are ready, our job is to make the world ready."
Commercial adoption of the vehicle would be a breakthrough for the sci-fi concept, but Macchina Volantis isn't the only group gunning to be the first to launch a commercial flying car operation.
A pilot program is expected to launch in Melbourne in 2020, with plans for commercial operations to begin in 2023.
The company claims the long-term vision for Uber Air is to open up air mobility with safe, quiet electric vehicles transporting tens of thousands of people across cities for the same price as an UberX trip over the same distance.
Business News Australia
Author: David Simmons