Sometimes life really does imitate art. That is, if you consider the Back To The Future trilogy to be a piece of art, which you really should as it is a verifiable cinematic masterpiece. At the end of the first film, there is a defining moment where the DeLorean car takes off vertically before flying off into the sky. This paves the way for the second film, set in the future, where flying cars have become the normal mode of transport. Now Paul DeLorean, nephew of John DeLorean — creator of the classic car made famous by the series — is on a mission to produce a flying car that would make this futuristic vision a reality.
The Delorean DR-7 vehicle is being developed by DeLorean Aerospace, the company at which Paul DeLorean is CEO and chief designer. It is planned to be a vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (VTOL) that will have space for two people and be electrically-powered. Vertical takeoff is achieved by two fans that are placed along the center of the vehicle, one at the front and one at the back. These fans lift the vehicle into the air, before rotating to provide power to move the vehicle forward. In terms of size, the widest section of the wingspan will be 5.6m and the overall length will be 6m. There will be two sets of wings and a small set of winglets, with the large wings able to be folded towards the main body of the vehicle to allow for storage.
A flying car with a 193km range
What sets this flying car apart from the others being produced by the likes of Airbus and Uber is the range it is aiming for. For other electric flying vehicles, the ranges are being touted as falling somewhere between 40km and 80km, but the DeLorean flying car is aiming for a range of 193km, which is far greater than the distance its rivals are hoping to achieve. The DeLorean DR-7 is also aiming to be capable of fully autonomous flight.
While we’re a few years off from seeing flying cars in action, their imminent arrival does herald a new list of challenges that need to be faced and understood now. With the huge rise in the proliferation of electric vehicles, there is the big question of how to build the necessary refueling infrastructure to accommodate the increasing number. In addition to energy supply, there is the more prescient question of how to regulate the use of self-driving and flying vehicles, and how these integrate with the current more regular modes of transport.
As you can see in our flying vehicles overview, some vehicles are closer to hitting the market than others, with flying taxis tipped to be operational in Dubai in 2017. We’ve already seen how drone technology created challenges for regulating airspace, so we can expect to see this intensified for flying cars. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and a DeLorean offering in the push to take to the skies makes it an exciting race to witness.