Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin Unveil Flying Car Concepts
In July 2018, the Rolls-Royce aircraft engine manufacturer unveiled a concept eVTOL vehicle at the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK. The hybrid-electric vehicle is designed with six electric-driven propellers and wings that rotate 90 degrees to enable vertical takeoff and landing.
The hybrid eVTOL is designed to carry four to five passengers and travel up to 250 mph for about 500 miles. The concept vehicle uses Rolls-Royce’s M250 gas turbine engines to charge a battery pack, which then powers six, low-noise propellers located on its wings and tail.
Once the vehicle reaches cruising altitude, its lifting propellers fold away and its rear propellers provide thrust. One of the practicalities of this hybrid vehicle is that a refuel takes less time than an electrical charge.
“Rolls-Royce has already delivered hybrid-electric systems for other applications including ships and trains, and we’re very excited about the potential of the technology in aerospace,” said Rolls-Royce Electrical Director Rob Watson at the airshow.
The luxury carmaker Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, owned by BMW, isn’t associated with the effort to build flying cars. The two companies are completely separate.
Watson envisions an all-electric version of its concept being used to transport people within a city, while its hybrid propulsion system could carry passengers longer distances, say from London to Paris.
The company plans to test its prototype before the end of 2019 and predicts it could take to the skies by the early to mid 2020s.
A Flying Car Fit for 007
Also at the Farnborough International Airshow, British luxury car maker Aston Martin unveiled its Volante Vision Concept Aircraft, a flying three-seater with eVTOL capabilities—and the ability to hit 200 mph in flight. This hybrid electric vehicle is designed for urban and inter-city air travel and can operate autonomously.
While other mobile solutions being developed run more along the lines of autonomous urban taxis, Aston Martin has envisioned its concept flying car as a luxurious flying vehicle for wealthy customers who want to reduce their commutes and have more flexibility over where they live.
While currently just a concept, Aston Martin plans to have a flying version for the 2020 Farnborough International Airshow. It’s been working with the Rolls-Royce engine maker, Cranfield University, and Cranfield Aerospace Solutions to develop its flying car.