While much of the automotive world is enthralled with the development of self-driving cars, other engineers have been working on flying cars.
The fruits of their labors have now gone on sale. Manufacturer PAL-V has officially started taking orders for its products, the Liberty Pioneer and Liberty Sport.
"After years of hard work, beating the technical and qualification challenges, our team succeeded in creating an innovative flying car that complies with existing safety standards, determined by regulatory bodies around the world," says Robert Dingemanse, CEO of PAL-V.
We've been following their efforts for quite a while. In 2012, we reported on the company's tests of the PAL-V gyrocopter, a lean and agile two-seater that can speed down motorways, launch from airstrips, and actually fly.
Easy to control
The 2012 incarnation featured an advanced rotor and propeller design, making it easier to control than a helicopter. At the time, the company boasted it could reach speeds above 100 miles per hour and launch from a short runway.
The prototype could be flown under 4,000 feet in the air, meaning that it will take less training to operate and won’t interfere with more complicated air traffic.
Fast forward to today, when the company says it is filling its first client orders. The company says it is ahead of its competitors because it engineered, designed, and built a flying car with proven technologies that is fully compliant with existing regulations. It says the first delivery date is imminent.
The company teamed with Italian designers to give the flying vehicle a little style. When earthbound, the vehicle handles like a car. The company says a lowered suspension and tilting cockpit makes it feel like you're driving a sports car.
In the air, the company says the PAL-V is safe and easy to operate.
Other flying cars still being tested
While the PAL-V might be the first flying car on the runway, it will be far from the last. A year ago, we reported on the efforts of a company called Terrafugia, which completed testing of its flying car prototype, the TF-X.
The vehicle is a plug-in hybrid electric flying car with semi-autonomous flight and vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. That means you could back it out of your garage, lift off from your driveway, fly to the office, and land in the parking lot.
The TF-X could enter production in eight to 12 years but could begin flight testing within the next year.