Bladerunner spinner flying car

Flying cars take to the skies: top models rated

Image credit: Capital Pictures, Wenn

After decades of promises, the vision of ‘flying cars’ is finally getting close to commercial reality. What projects are currently in the works?

The 1982 cult sci-fi classic ‘Blade Runner’ envisioned a future full of LED umbrellas, robots (or ‘replicants’) indistinguishable from human beings and, most notably, flying cars. This world, created by director Ridley Scott, was set in Los Angeles in 2019.

Fast-forward 30 years from the events of the first film and the sequel - ‘Blade Runner 2049’ - revisits Scott’s grimly replicant-dominated world – again, visualising and exploring many of the same themes shown in the ’80s classic, with film marketers plastering the franchise’s ‘spinner’ car (generic term for fictional flying cars in this world) at the forefront of posters and trailers, prior to the film’s release.

This world depicted in ‘Blade Runner’ is not, of course, recognisable in our reality. So you might be thinking, we’re near the end of 2019 – where are our flying cars? Do we have to wait until 2049 to purchase one and put it through its paces?

Don’t fret; we may not have to wait until 2049. In fact, several companies have developed and tested flying cars – and some of them are even preparing to bring these personal air vehicles to the market in the very near future.

Here we present five different flying car projects – though one looks like a small aircraft – currently in their design, testing and production stages, taking us a step closer to essentially becoming the real-life ‘Blade Runner’ (minus the replicants, for now).

Which is the fastest? Most durable? Most spacious? Cheapest? And which best lives up to the cool exterior of the ‘spinner’ depicted in the futuristic film?

Pal-V Liberty

Dubbed the world’s first production flying car, the Liberty is fully compliant with existing regulations. Dutch manufacturer Pal-V says it represents a “pivotal time in aviation and mobility history”.

Pal-V Liberty flying car

Image credit: Pal-V

Max airspeed (km/h) 180 (110mph)

Max Range (km) 500 (300 miles)

Capacity 2 people

Payload (kg) 664

Estimated price £443,000 (€499,000)

Expected delivery 2019

E&T’s cool rating 3/5

AeroMobil 4.0 Car

Constructed by the AeroMobil Team, based in Bratislava, Slovakia, and led by co-founders Štefan Klein and Juraj Vaculík, its early protype was conceived as a vehicle that could be converted from an automobile to an aircraft.

Aeromobil 4.0 flying car

Image credit: Aeromobil

Max airspeed (km/h) 360 (220mph)

Max range (km) 750 (450 miles)

Capacity 2 people

Payload (kg) 240

Estimated price £325,000 to £1.3m ($399,000 to $1.6m)

Expected delivery 2020

E&T’s cool rating 4/5

Terrafugia TF-X

Developed by Boston-based start-up Terrafugia, the TF-X is capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) by extending its retractable wings attached to pusher propellers. Terrafugia also claims that the car will be able to fit in a single-car garage.

Terrafugia TF-X flying car

Image credit: Terrafugia

Max airspeed (km/h) 161 (100mph)

Max range (km) 800 (500 miles)

Capacity 3 people (including pilot)

Payload Unknown

Estimated price £200,000 ($279,000)

Expected delivery year 2021

E&T’s cool rating 5/5

Moller Skycar 400

Currently in its ‘operational prototype’ stage, the Skycar combines the high-speed capabilities of a fixed-wing aircraft with the vertical take-off and landing capabilities of a helicopter – so it doesn’t need a runway. You can argue this doesn’t look like a flying car, but it’s a personal vehicle nonetheless.

Moller Skycar 400

Image credit: Moller

Max airspeed (km/h) 433 (330mph)

Max range (km) 1,300 (800 miles)

Capacity 4 people

Payload (kg) 454

Estimated price £407,000 ($500,000)

Expected delivery year TBC

E&T’s cool rating 2/5

SkyDrive by Cartivator

Collaborating with Japanese car manufacturers Toyota, start-up group Cartivator is hoping its flying car SkyDrive, another VTOL model, will be used light the Olympic flame for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games.

Cartivator Skydrive flying car

Image credit: Cartivator

Max airspeed (km/h) 100 (62mph)

Max range (km) 20-30km

Capacity 2 people

Payload (kg) 400kg

Estimate price TBC

Expected delivery year 2023

E&T’s cool rating 4/5

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