Believe it or not, flying cars are already here — sort of. They’re technically “here” if you’re a well-heeled one-percenter with the means to drop almost a million dollars on what amounts to an impractical toy. Now, though, two of the world’s most renowned transportation companies are looking to make those toys a lot more practical and real.
Earlier this month, Porsche and Boeing announced an informal collaboration to work on the first commercially available flying cars. In business speak, they signed an unofficial “memorandum of understanding.” To the layperson, that means they’re “looking into things” without a real commitment. The official press release claims the partnership will “create an international team to address various aspects of urban air mobility, including analysis of the market potential for premium vehicles and possible use cases.” It’s the first step in what’s sure to be a lengthy process of getting flying cars into the air.
For decades, wide-eyed manufacturers have promised flying car networks for the masses, available to all. This Porsche-Boeing partnership isn’t even pretending to do that. The two companies are specifically looking to build infrastructure to support exclusive vehicles sold to the world’s elite. Details are thin at the moment, but the electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft are likely to feature all the hallmarks of Porsche’s high-end design and construction.
The mechanics of building a sky-way of flying vehicles zipping overhead in the world’s most populated urban centers are dizzying, bordering on impossible. It’s hardly a wonder that no company to date has done it. Boeing’s subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences is arguably the closest yet to realizing the concept. The company has worked for years on VTOL vehicles and earlier this year performed a successful, unmanned test flight in Virginia. Such vehicles have been around for decades in the form of Harrier jets and military helicopters. But, planning widescale use of that same technology over a city is a whole different game.
Not surprisingly, neither Porsche nor Boeing has announced a launch date for the project. If any company can get flying cars off the ground, it seems Boeing has the means, motive, and know-how to do so.
If you can’t wait for Porsche-branded flying sports cars to take off, take heart. The world’s first premier global flying car racing league is coming in 2020 — maybe.
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