Thirty-two years ago Back to the Future made a flying Delorean a cultural icon and a symbol of the future. The sci-fi trilogy was pretty adamant that we’d all have flying cars by the year 2015. That said, we can certainly forgive Delorean Aerospace a few years’ delay if it means we get our flying car.
When John DeLorean set up his car company, he probably hoped that his name would become synonymous with luxury, style and speed. He almost certainly didn’t expect it to be associated with time travel or a flying car. Well, John’s nephew, Paul DeLorean, seems pretty happy with at least half of that association as his company, DeLorean Aerospace, plans to make flying cars a very real part of modern travel.
According to Wired, Paul set up DeLorean Aerospace in 2012 with the aim of building a flying car, or, to use the more technical terminology, a ” two-seat vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) personal air transport vehicle”. It might be easier to just stick with “flying car”. For a two-seater vehicle, DeLorean’s model, the DR-7, boasts some impressive dimensions. It’s 30 feet long, with its wings making it 18.5 feet wide, certainly less compact than the standard motor vehicle, but its wings can apparently fold up to make storage much easier.
Fans of Back to the Future may recall that the classic flying DeLorean was powered by the nuclear reactor Mr. Fusion, while DeLorean Aerospace’s model should be entirely electric. According to the DeLorean Aerospace mission statement, this will allow the vehicle to contribute to a cleaner environment on top of the benefits of reducing traffic congestion and commute times. The company has also secured a number of patents on elements of its design which they say creates “a practical, elegant, and extremely safe alternative to conventional aircraft”. The DR-7, once completed, is expected to have a range of 120 miles on a single charge.
The risk of opening up air travel to personal vehicles is much less than people might first assume. Driverless cars have become a common sight and a similar technology would be ideal for flying cars. Owners of the cars wouldn’t have to worry about factors like altitude or wind speed and there would be no nightmarish attempts to parallel park vertically. The DR-7 is designed for members of the public as passengers and not pilots.
DeLorean aren’t the only ones looking to create an industry around flying cars. Airbus has been looking into just that with its Vahana project, while Airbus is reportedly aiming to launch flying car services around Dubai, the United States and Australia in the next 3-6 years. While such ventures might currently be too expensive for getting to your dentist’s appointment, industry experts feel like they could be ideal ways to travel between cities in short times.
Time will tell who dominates the flying car market, but it’ll be hard for anyone to beat out the only company that can actually offer you the chance to travel in your very own flying DeLorean.