Moller International has announced that it has completed the design of a true hybrid flying car…a 2-passenger car capable of lifting off vertically and flying for about 15 minutes. Called the autovolantor it is designed to function on the road very much like a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) until one gets stuck in traffic. At that point, it can lift off vertically and fly at up to 150 mph for a short distance. Upon landing it can drive on the ground for up to 40 miles or longer using one of its eight Rotapower® engines to generate electrical power.
Moller International received a request to design this vehicle from a wealthy foreign businessman who was unable to commute from the city to his country home due to the overcrowded streets of Moscow. The Company conducted a preliminary analysis and found that a hybrid propulsion system powered by engines and electric motors together with its propriety eight-fan stabilized aircraft design could be blended to create the autovolantor. Scale model wind tunnel testing and further analysis predicted surprisingly good all around performance for the combined car-aircraft. While the cost for developing a prototype was estimated at over $5 million, the Company believes production versions of the autovolantor could be produced for under $250,000 in modest volumes.
The big question that remains is how the autovolantor could be used, and whether regulations and licensing would permit its use within major cities around the world. “It seems that it might be practical in some parts of the world, but in our view a roadable aircraft (versus a flying car) is still more practical for the greatest number of people,” said Dr. Paul Moller, founder and President of Moller International. “The autovolantor is technically possible, but flying it in US cities is not going to be politically acceptable until it has been deployed successfully in other roles and environments. Practical or not, it excites the imagination to think about being able to rise vertically out of a traffic jam and just go!” he concluded.