Number of companies around the world are trying to develop “flying cars”, which could be the best personal aircraft for transportation. And, if these “flying cars” go true, it will bring a complete revolution in the transportation. Though the structure isn’t enough to support such a revolution, there’s a company with huge backing that wants its products on sale before the end of this decade.
A startup named “Opener” wants its first product on sale the next year. CNBC had an interview with the startup’s technical advisor, Alan Eustace. According to the reports by CNBC, the startup is having a huge backing from Google’s co-founder Larry Page. In the FAQ page of the company, it has mentioned that it is “well-funded” startup and won’t require any new investors or fundings for the near future.
The first vehicle by the company, called BlackFly, is pretty decent as a perosnal-air-transport vehicle. The vehicle operates entirely on a rechargeable battery just like an electric car. It will perform vertical takeoffs as well as landings. According to the company’s claim, BlackFly will be capable of autonomous flight. But, this feature would be possibly not offered at the launch. Like other aircrafts, BlackFly equips redundancies, that includes a low-power glide mode and an optional parachute system for emergency.
The FAA considers BlackFly to be ultralight, which means users will not require a pilot’s license to operate it. But, the FAQ page mentions of Opener that owners will need to complete FAA’s private-pilot written examination and the company’s own “familiarization and operator training.”
BlackFly would not revolutionize transportation directly in congested cities directly. As an ultralight aircraft, it will be permitted to fly only over clear terrain. In the US, it will possibly travel with a maximum range of 25 miles at a maximum speed of 62mph. This is a bit lesser than any car crossing the same areas. But, in Canada, it can travel longer and faster, due to differences in each country’s aviation regulations.
Once the vehicle is on the road, it doesn’t work like a traditional car. So, the “flying car” designation becomes even less viable. Opener’s site mentions that once the BlackFly is on the road, it requires two small carts to move around. It will house just a single passenger up to 250 pounds weight and 6.5 feet height.
Opener hopes that someday it will make personal VTOL craft that will be as affordable as a normal car. But, both the price and the development of such craft is way away. According to CNBC, local and federal regulations will take at least five years to accept large-scale personalized air transport.
Larry Page is trying to invest in different VTOL companies. He also has a financial stake in Kitty Hawk, a VTOL company that wants to launch its first commercially viable product in about next three years. As compared to BlackFly, Kitty Hawk’s Cora supports two seats, and has a traditional design. Currently, it is moving to New Zealand for testing as its aviation regulations are favorable.