rolls royce jet engine

Rolls Royce reveals electric flying car propulsion system

Image credit: reuters

Flying cars could soon become a reality with jet engine maker Rolls Royce announcing that it has created a propulsion system designed to work in such a vehicle.

The British manufacturer said it is starting a search for partners to help develop the project and hopes it could take to the skies as soon as early next decade.

While start-ups such as Lilium have promised in the past to launch a flying car by 2020 (costing $1m), and more established players like Airbus and Audi have unveiled conceptual designs, Rolls Royce is the first reputable brand to claim it has actually designed a working propulsion system.

Rolls-Royce said its electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) vehicle could carry four to five people at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour for approximately 500 miles.

Long the stuff of science fiction and futuristic cartoons such as “The Jetsons”, aviation and technology leaders are keen to make the vehicles a reality.

Cab-hailing company Uber demonstrated an electric flying car concept in 2016 that would help reduce commute duration and tackle congestion. 

Rolls-Royce’s design is being showcased in digital form at the Farnborough Airshow this week. The company is looking for an airframer and a partner to provide aspects of the electrical system to help commercialise the project.

Rolls-Royce said in a statement it was well-placed to play a leading role in the “personal air mobility” market.

“The initial concept vehicle uses gas turbine technology to generate electricity to power six electric propulsors specially designed to have a low noise profile,” the company said, adding the design used its existing M250 gas turbine.

Rolls’s design would not require re-charging because the battery is charged by the gas turbine, it said, adding it could use existing infrastructure such as heliports and airports.

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