Flying cars in the trillion dollar market, windfall or sinkhole?

With the Guangzhou Automobile Research Institute released “flying machine” related recruitment information, another domestic company is ready to enter the “flying car” field Before this, the domestic Xiaopeng and Geely have entered the game, and achieved some results, looking at the world, there are hundreds of companies are trying to develop flying cars. The company is trying to develop a flying car. Morgan Stanley predicts that by 2040, this new transportation market will reach 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars, but this piece of cake on the wind, want to eat is not easy. The definition of a flying car is a dual-purpose vehicle that can fly in the air as well as travel on land and can carry people over long distances.
Karl Benz invented the first automobile in 1886, and the first flight in human history was completed by the Wright Brothers in 1903, since then, people have begun to explore the combination of automobile and flight, the American Glenn Hammond Curtis (Glenn Hammond Curtis) in the 1917 New York Pan American Airshow, he brought his development of aluminum fuselage and fixed-wing combination of the flying car Autoplane, which is considered to be the first flying car in human history. Although this bizarre flying car never really took to the skies, it did not detract from the fact that Curtis became the “Father of the Flying Car”. Curtis must have envisioned a flying car that could travel freely through the sky, but he didn’t necessarily anticipate that a hundred years later, that vision would not be realized.
The good news is that after entering the new millennium, everyone’s enthusiasm for “flying cars” has been ignited once again, from traditional aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing in the aviation field to automobile manufacturers such as Volkswagen and Geely, all of which have already laid out the field of flying cars and have made some achievements, and there are also fresh faces that continue to join the game, putting the “flying car” in a new light. The concept of “flying car” has been pushed to a climax. In view of the introduction of the above text, we need to think about a question, flying car this transportation, in the end belongs to the category of cars or should be divided into the field of aircraft? We can look for the answer from the existing “flying cars”.
The “grandfather” of the modern flying car company is Terrafugia (Terrafugia), “Terrafugia” is a word derived from Latin, meaning “escape from the ground”, the intention is self-evident. The word “Terrafugia” comes from the Latin word for “escape from the ground,” and the intent is self-evident. Founded in 2006 by five MIT graduates, Terrafugia released their first flying car prototype, the Transition, in 2009 and upgraded it in 2012, which has folding wings, weighs about 1,300 pounds, has a fixed landing gear, and carries a crew of two. The Transition has folding wings, weighs about 1,300 pounds, has fixed landing gear, a crew of two (including the driver), a cruising speed of 160 km/h, a range of 640 km, and a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). In addition, the Transition is equipped with a series of active and passive safety devices for cars, including airbags, pre-tensioned seat belts, crash zones, and a parachute for landing the vehicle safely in case of emergency.

Following the development of Terrafugia (Terrafugia), continue to look down will find the figure of Chinese enterprises: in 2017, Geely acquired Terrafugia; in 2019, Geely and Daimler jointly funded 50 million euros to invest in the German flying car company Volocopter; in 2020, Geely’s Hubei Geely Terrafugia Co. In 2020, Geely’s Hubei Geely Taili Flying Car Co. and Chengdu Aoshi Technology Co., Ltd. will jointly establish Volocopter, which owns the industrial-grade drone brand “Aoshi” and the urban air travel brand “Volongkongtai”;
In 2021, the TF-1, acquired by Geely, was awarded an airworthiness certificate by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the first of its kind in the world.
Flying cars that are currently under research or have been successfully developed can be categorized into two types of takeoff and landing methods: skidding takeoff and landing and vertical takeoff and landing. The TF-1 mentioned above belongs to skidding takeoff and landing, which requires a special airport or a closed controlled road to complete the takeoff and landing; the vertical takeoff and landing land and air dual-use flying car can get rid of the constraints of the special runway or motorized highway, and take off and land on the rooftop of a building or on any slightly open level ground, just like a traditional helicopter. Vertical lift, electrification, these are the current mainstream direction of the development of flying cars.

Whether it is styling or function, do not need a runway can directly take off vertically flying car to become the mainstream of design, but such a shape, seems to be with the “car” word gradually far away, if this moment to ask again, flying car this transportation, in the end, belongs to the category of automobiles or should be classified into the field of airplanes, what’s your answer? What would be your answer?
Today, the concept of flying cars is being replaced by eVTOL. eVTOL’s full English name is Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing, which directly translates to “Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing Vehicle”. The common definition of eVTOL is an electric-powered airborne “flying car” that can take off and land vertically without the need for a dedicated runway or motorized highway. Since its value proposition was to carry people or cargo in the air from the beginning, it did not have motorized highway travel capabilities, and many eVTOLs were not even designed with wheels.
Uber is the company that really brought eVTOLs to the forefront, and in 2016, Uber launched its “Uber Elevate” urban air cab program, which led to a wave of eVTOLs around the world. eVTOLs have been the subject of a complex and rigorous vetting process, which has included, but is not limited to, the American Helicopter Association International (AHAI) and the U.S. Helicopter Association of America (HAA). The eVTOL industry is based on a very complex and rigorous review process that includes and is not limited to the American Helicopter Association (AHA), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the European Air Transport Association (EATA), and the European Air Transport Association (EATA). AHA, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and other organizations to formulate and improve relevant regulations and provisions.
In this regard, relevant discussions have also been going on in the country. The Outline of the International Comprehensive Three-dimensional Transportation Network Plan, which will be introduced in 2021, has for the first time explicitly proposed the development of low-altitude economy. In March this year, the Ministry of Transportation issued the “Outline of Medium- and Long-Term Development Plan for Scientific and Technological Innovation in the Field of Transportation (2021-2035)”, which mentions the need to deploy the research and development of flying cars, and breakthroughs in the fusion of aircraft and cars, and the free switching of flights and ground travel, in order to seize the first opportunity in the development of cutting-edge equipment. With the advent of the era of electrification, the new energy field of technology by leaps and bounds so that more and more people began to take “flying cars” seriously, the wind is blowing more and more wind, the huge market prospects means lucrative profit margins, but want to earn the money, very difficult.
A high threshold for entry
Flying car is a technology-intensive, talent-intensive, capital-intensive industry, the huge R & D investment in the early stage can make a large number of enterprises deterred, according to the Lufthansa Innovation Hub (Lufthansa Innovation Hub) research report shows that, from the development of the product to the certification of airworthiness and then to the final commercialization of the eVTOL start-ups will need to spend $700 million – $1 billion in capital investment. B
B Long and costly product development and airworthiness certification cycles
eVTOL is a new technology, the technical specifications are very different from traditional aircraft, in terms of airworthiness certification, the regulator needs to accumulate and improve, which will be a very long process.
Terrafugia, mentioned above, developed its first prototype in 2009, but did not obtain airworthiness certification until 2021. Although the TF-1 does not belong to eVTOL, and as a pioneer in the industry it needs to pay more time and cost, the cumbersomeness and complexity of airworthiness certification can be seen from this.
C Commercial operation requires high safety, reliability and environmental protection.
Safety and reliability are the red lines of commercialization, and no one can afford the serious consequences of accidents. In the 1970s, New York Airways, which provided helicopter commuter services in New York, crashed its planes in the city three times due to technical problems, causing many casualties and ultimately leading to the cancellation of operations.

Noise pollution has also become an important factor in considering whether the eVTOL can take off and land frequently in the city limits.
Obviously, as an option for future urban transportation development, the mutual supplementation of flying cars and ground transportation has a positive effect on easing congestion and improving travel efficiency. This is also the history of aviation, the first time so many “outsiders” into the circle to lead a new “flight” concept, as well as the leading product development, production. From the perspective of new energy aviation, we are already in the midst of this magnificent travel revolution. Aviation and capital have never been more closely integrated, this is the best of times, but the uncertainty brought by the long cycle, but also make it the worst of times. But in this process, at least one thing we can be sure, this is the best time for aviation engineers, as IT engineers in the age of information technology.

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