The world’s first-ever commercial flying car was recently unveiled by Dutch vehicle manufacturer PAL-V. Here’s what that means for our roads (and our skies).
Starting with the undercarriage, which PAL-V credits as their main breakthrough. The company was looking for a three-wheeled design that could still be stable when turning at normal road-going speeds.
In 2005, they discovered the work of another Dutch company, Carver, which made 3-wheeled cars that tilted like motorcycles. A hydraulic tilting system like that could eliminate the need for a 4th wheel and also be useful to raise the whole vehicle up, giving it ground clearance for a rear-facing propeller. Then there was the matter of generating lift.
Fixed wing aircraft need air to move over their wings fast enough to stay aloft, otherwise they’ll stall. A fixed wing flying car has to compromise the size and shape of its wings in the name of practicality, meaning its risk of stalling is higher. So PAL-V chose a rotary wing design instead, but rather than make their flying car a helicopter, they decided it should be an autogyro.
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“In driving mode the Liberty can go up to 99 miles per hour, and in flight mode its max speed is 112 miles per hour. For comparison’s sake, the average helicopter can go up to about 160 miles per hour.”