Today, commuting to work in a personal helicopter or private jet is something that’s only really available to billionaire CEOs, hedge fund managers, and “one hit wonder” rappers who are six months away from bankruptcy.
That’s all going to change in the near future, however. Just like the way that cellphones used to be exclusively for the 1 percent, soon the idea of taking a personal flying machine to work is going to be a part of everyday life.
Don’t believe us? Check out some of the companies who are building personal drones, flying “cars,” and even an Iron Man-style jetsuit that will soon be available to the masses. That means you and I!
Californian startup Opener’s entrant into the flying car market is BlackFly, which the company hails as, “the world’s first ultralight all-electric fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.” It’s a single-seat aircraft/vehicle capable of travelling up to 25 miles on a charge, with a top speed of 62 miles per hour.
You won’t need a pilot’s license to fly it, although you will have to complete vehicle training and an FAA Private Pilot written exam.
As with a lot of the other vehicles on this list, no official price has been announced yet, although Opener has stressed the importance of “competitive pricing.” In interviews, designer Marcus Leng has said that Opener should cost no more than an SUV. Provided he’s talking about an average midsize SUV, that would suggest we’ll be able to take to the skies for around $33,000.
Sometimes you don’t need to give your product a flashy millennial marketing team name — unnecessarily frivolous and featuring lower case letters where upper case ones should be — to sell your product. That’s the case with the simply named Passenger Drone: an upcoming self-driving, 16-rotor, human-sized drone.
The machine will be controlled by a touchscreen, and promises to take off with just one button. Users can then draw their route on a map, and have the drone fly them there, using a range of smart autonomous technologies to do so without accidentally running into anything on the way.
The company has yet to reveal how much this will all cost. While we’re expecting it to be pretty pricey, the theoretical ease-of-use of such a device could certainly help make this a mainstream entity, provided it’s within reach of your average consumer. And that it works, obviously.
Aston Martin’s Volante Vision
We’re including this one despite the fact that, yes, we realize that most people don’t currently drive an Aston Martin to work. The idea that somehow one of the world’s most luxurious car brands will become cheaper when it adds a new flying feature to the mix is pretty darn unlikely. But the dream of arriving at the office in a flying version of James Bond’s car is too intoxicating to ignore.
Aston Martin’s Volante Vision flying car is a hybrid-electric aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capabilities. Although no official release date has been announced, it promises to offer sufficient space for three adults in a triangular configuration.
Given that the company is sticking to its luxury market ethos, this one’s probably more of a weekend hire if we’re honest. But what a birthday gift that hire will be!
Uber flying taxis
Who said that you need to actually own a flying vehicle in order to enjoy all the good things it can deliver? That’s what Uber has figured out, and is working toward with its flying taxi program.
Uber’s concept, as depicted in a promotional video, shows how we might summon UberAir flights using a smartphone app. So far, so identical to catching a regular Uber. After you’ve booked your flight, however, you’ll then have to get to a dedicated “Uber Skyport,” gain access to your vehicle with the QR code from your digital boarding code, and then take off.
The tagline at the end of the video reads, “closer than you think.” To this we can hopefully add, “cheaper than you fear.”
German aviation startup Lilium Aviation has attracted the support of high-profile investors like China’s giant holding company Tencent to bring its flying car dreams to life.
In 2017, Lilium carried out a demo of its two-seater VTOL vehicle at a private airfield in Bavaria. The vehicle was remotely remotely by a pilot on the ground. Lilium is also working on a five-person vehicle, which should be able to fly for up to 60 minutes on a single charge.
The company hasn’t announced pricing information but, like Uber, it is very interested in the concept of flying car taxis. CEO Remo Gerber has said that taking a ride should be no more expensive than taking a road-based taxi or buying a train ticket. That sounds promising.
Gravity Industries’ flying exosuit
Most of the flying machines on this list fall into the same category of vertical take-off and landing vehicle. Not this one. Created by British inventor Richard Browning, it’s a flying jetsuit, capable of transforming you into something approximating Marvel Comics’ Iron Man.
Gravity Industries’ flying exosuit boasts five jet engines and a head-up display which shows your remaining fuel levels.
Despite the fact that you’ll never have used anything like this in your life, Browning previously told Digital Trends that training takes just a few minutes. “We’ve had a pilot with five minutes’ training who managed to hover untethered very happily,” he said. “A lot does depend on fitness level and aptitude, but you don’t have to be a superhero or superhuman to fly it.”
The exosuit is currently available for sale, although the price may make you wince. Right now, a limited number are available for $446,000, but Browning has told us that, “Inevitably, the cost will come down.” A much cheaper electric version is also in the works.