The world’s first-ever commercial flying car was recently unveiled by Dutch vehicle manufacturer PAL-V. Here’s what that means for our roads (and our skies).
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Starting with the undercarriage, which PAL-V credits as their main breakthrough. The company was looking for a three-wheeled design that could still be stable when turning at normal road-going speeds. In 2005, they discovered the work of another Dutch company, Carver, which made 3-wheeled cars that tilted like motorcycles. A hydraulic tilting system like that could eliminate the need for a 4th wheel and also be useful to raise the whole vehicle up, giving it ground clearance for a rear-facing propeller.
Then there was the matter of generating lift. Fixed wing aircraft need air to move over their wings fast enough to stay aloft, otherwise they’ll stall. A fixed wing flying car has to compromise the size and shape of its wings in the name of practicality, meaning its risk of stalling is higher.
So PAL-V chose a rotary wing design instead, but rather than make their flying car a helicopter, they decided it should be an autogyro.
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“Having to carry heavy extra batteries to avoid the potential catastrophe of running out of charge before encountering a suitable landing place could offset emissions savings. Road cars, by contrast, can easily pull over to the side of the road when needed, without consequence.”
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“Ever since he invented the car, man has dreamt of taking it to the skies.”
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