Flying cars are the future, apparently. That’s what tech companies like to say whenever they wheel out a new vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) craft that they’re tenuously claiming is a flying car. So far, very few of these creations have made it off the drawing board and into reality. Things changed this week, when Chinese tech company XPeng strapped a drone to a hatchback and called it a flying car.
As reported by Elektrek, XPeng’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) division wheeled out a prototype for its new flying car concept during the company’s annual tech day. Footage of the event, shared by the company on YouTube, shows the prototype taking to the skies for the first time.
And when it does take flight, it’s a pretty strange sight to behold. Unlike most other “flying car” concepts that we’ve seen before, this one actually does look a bit like a normal car. But, unlike most normal cars, this one appears to have a drone strapped to its roof.
But what is it? Well, it’s built by XPeng’s flying car business AeroHT and it comprises the body of a pretty normal-looking hatchback with four folding arms protruding from the roof. At the tip of each arm is a motor powering two rotors.
To control the car when it takes to the skies, the driver pilot uses “the steering wheel and the right-hand gear lever as controls to move forward and backward, make turns, ascend, hover and descend.”
The footage of the car flying during the tech day presentation is pretty neat. The car is seen rolling out an airport hanger, before being weighed at more than 4,000 pounds - roughly the same weight as a Honda Pilot SUV.
Engineers then fiddle with laptops and check calculations before the eight propellers spin into life and the car gently lifts off from the ground. It looks very odd just floating there above the road.
The prototype proceeds to fly around a bit more, performing a few mid-air turns for good measure. Then, it lands safely back on terra firma to rapturous applause from the onlooking engineers.
You can see the footage for yourself here to see if you think it’s a glimpse at a future that we should be getting excited about.