Last updated: 11:57 AM ET, Tue March 17 2015

Self-Flying Cars Could be Reality in 2017

Car Rental & Rail | Patrick Clarke | March 17, 2015

Self-Flying Cars Could be Reality in 2017

Image courtesy of Aeromobil's Facebook page

What's better than traveling in a Ferrari? How about getting chauffeured in a self-piloting "Ferrari with wings?"

If AeroMobil CEO Juraj Vaculik gets his wish, travelers will be able to request a self-flying car instead of an Uber ride by the end of the decade, with the company eyeing a 2017 launch of a two-seater vehicle. According to Mashable's Pete Pachal, Vaculik announced the startup's plan for the new vehicles at a recent keynote at South by Southwest Interactive.

"[Self-driving] technology is coming to the car, but as an autopilot, it's already there," said Vaculik. "There are already systems for taking off and landing automatically. These two technologies can work together."

I know what you're thinking. What happens if the autopilot fails?

"What's better than a car, though, is that you can press what we're calling a panic button, and the parachute will be deployed, and it'll safety land via parachute," said Vaculik.

Vaculik and co-founder Stefan Klein are confident in their design and have already unveiled how it would work, which you can see more of in a four-minute video published to the company's YouTube account last year:

Boasting a hybrid engine, the fully autonomous vehicle is expected to have a range of about 900 miles or three hours of flight. But the service wouldn't be limited to individual travelers, with two- and four-seat designs in the works, families and groups would be able to travel together. 

As far as taking off and landing go, Vaculik has highlighted the idea of runways built alongside highways so that travelers can continue on their journey upon landing. Or, as the video shows, a long strip of grass or a flat field will do the trick.

Of course, the vehicle's wings will be retractable, so that travelers can join traffic without issue.

Despite the allure and unparalleled convenience of self-flying cars, there are undoubtedly several obstacles standing in AeroMobil's way. 

In addition to gaining the necessary regulatory approval and constructing safe, designated runways and landing strips, AeroMobil will have to convince travelers that the perceived risks are worth the reward. 


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