As the saying goes: once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, but three times is a trend. And so, ladies and gentlemen, given what we've seen this week, flying cars are probably going to be a thing. Sorry.
We saw our first airborne auto years ago: the Terrafugia. Then came the helicopter hybrid known as the PAL-V. And example #3 debuted yesterday in Vienna: AeroMobil's third iteration of its flying car -- dubbed, perhaps not too imaginatively, the AeroMobil 3.0.
Admittedly, all of those flying contraptions are a bit...unusual. But even if all three fail, the underlying ideas are out there, and for better or worse, someone's likely to follow through on them one day.
THE AEROMOBIL 3.0
According to AeroMobil's website, the AeroMobil 3.0 is a spot-on blend of car and flying machine:
AeroMobil is a flying car that perfectly makes use of existing infrastructure created for automobiles and planes, and opens doors to real door-to-door travel. As a car it fits into any standard parking space, uses regular gasoline, and can be used in road traffic just like any other car. As a plane it can use any airport in the world, but can also take off and land using any grass strip or paved surface just a few hundred meters long.
On the ground, the AeroMobil 3.0 can hit speeds of 100 mph, has a range of 540 miles on a full tank of fuel, and earns 29.4 mpg. Not too shabby for a car that can also fly.
Tesla's Elon Musk has criticized flying cars like the AeroMobil 3.0 for the aesthetic damage they would inflict on city skylines. We second that concern and add a few more quibbles of our own:
- First, today's flying cars are ungainly. They're not the elegant airborne machines of The Fifth Element or The Jetsons or the landspeeders of Star Wars. They're not even as beautifully wacky as the long-lost Aptera. These are planes -- or, in the case of the PAL-V, helicopters -- that transform into cars. Ugly, ugly cars. Cars that could make the Pontiac Aztek look stunning. Is that the kind of world we want to inhabit?
- Second, though they promise to unclog congested cities, they could easily do the opposite. The AeroMobil 3.0, for example, needs "just a few hundred meters" to take off and land. Have you ever tried to find a few hundred spare meters in New York or San Francisco or Boston? Please let us know if you do.
- Third, we trust precious few of our friends and family to drive them. Have you ridden with your spouse lately? Your kids? Your parents? Now, imagine them flying. All of them. At once.
Luckily, the AeroMobil 3.0 is still in the prototype phase, and there's no indication when it might be available for purchase by consumers. It won't stay that way forever, though. Brace for impact.