Could the time finally be right for the flying car to leave the drawing boards of futurists and take to our skies as a new form of transportation? According to Francois Chopard, Founder and CEO of investment firm Starburst Accelerator, the answer is yes. For decades, the idea of flying cars have been used as shorthand for “the future”; something perpetually a few years off in the distance, waiting for technology to catch up and make them possible. Chopard thinks that’s finally happening.
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He is not alone. In addition to AeroMobil—which plans to sell winged vehicles to well-heeled enthusiasts—there are quite a few other companies working on developing new vehicles to solve our commutes by taking them into the third dimension (see for example Uber, which is planning a new service called Uber Elevate). There’s also Google co-founder Larry Page, who owns two different flying car startups: Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk. Even Airbus is getting in on the action.
An Electric VTOL Orchestra?
Chopard and others think that taking to the skies will be a solution for increasing traffic density and ever-longer commutes in major cities. We spoke with him recently to see if he could counter our heavy skepticism. “When you look at prototypes that have been flying you can see the tech and performance is ready,” he explained, pointing to companies like Joby, Lilium, and Aurora. Unlike the AeroMobil Flying Car, which uses wings to generate lift and an internal combustion engine to provide propulsion, Chopard told us the real action is in electric vertical take-off and landing machines, which don’t require a runway or landing strip to operate.