Geneva: After gracing our screens for decades, flying cars are about to shift gears from dream to reality, with the unveiling of a commercial model in Geneva this week.
From James Bond to The Jetsons, flying cars have long captured our imaginations, but now a Dutch company says they are almost ready to take to the streets, and the skies.
Pal-V unveiled its Liberty Flying Car -- a sleek, red three-wheeled gyrocopter-type vehicle -- at the Geneva Motor Show and vowed that client deliveries could start next year.
This kind of transportation, which allows drivers to both zip through traffic on the ground or simply fly above it, has never ceased to inspire engineers.
As a sign that this technology is not only being toyed with in the start-up realm, an alliance between Airbus, Audi and Italdesign also presented a concept flying vehicle, "Pop.Up Next", at the Geneva show.
That modular system, made up of an electric car with a huge quadcopter fastened to the roof, is expected to be commercialised starting in 2025, the companies said.
For Pal-V (Personal Air and Land Vehicle), it was "frustration" that sparked the idea for Liberty.
In a plane, "you start at a point where you don´t want to start and you end up in a place where you don´t want to be," company chief Robert Dingemanse told AFP. "The Pal-V is the perfect product for city-to-city mobility," he said, pointing out that "outside the cities you fly, inside the city you drive."
The vehicle, which seats two, has retractable helicopter blades and is powered by a gasoline-fuelled engine.
It can fly for 500 kilometres (310 miles), or can drive for nearly four times that distance without refuelling, reaching a maximum speed of 160 kilometres per hour. Buyers are already lining up: For now the expected waiting time for delivery is around two years.
For take-off, "you can use the 10,000 strips available in Europe, and because you can drive, that´s already enough," Dingemanse said, adding that "every German will have a small airport within 10 or 20 kilometres of his home". But Pal-V´s Liberty will not be a vehicle for everyman: Future drivers should expect to dish out between 10,000 and 20,000 euros ($12,000-$25,000) for pilot training, in addition to the anticipated 300,000-500,000-euro cost for the machine itself, Dingemanse said.