As global carmakers compete to bring the first flying car to the market, Czech pilot Pavel Brezina is trying a different tack – he has made a GyroDrive – a mini helicopter you can drive.
The engineer and owner of Nirvana Systems, a company producing motors for small flying machines, insists his vehicle is the first in the world authorised to operate both on roads and in the air.
“This is the only road-certified flying vehicle I know about,” Brezina said last week.
“Everyone is trying to make a high-speed car that can fly, but this is a different thing.”
His GyroDrive vehicle is based on a gyroplane – a mini-helicopter — using a copterstyle rotor to move up and down, and an aeroplane-type “pusher propeller” to go forward.
Brezina’s company buys gyroplane kits from a German firm, and then assembles and equips them with a system allowing the pilotdriver to switch between a petrol engine propelling the rotors and an electric engine driving the wheels.
The two-seat GyroDrive has a maximum driving speed of just 40km/h and can take its crew of two on short distance drives.
It needs less than 100m to take off and reaches a top speed of 180km/h in the air.
After landing, the pilot only has to fix the main rotor blades along the axis of the GyroDrive and pull out a built-in licence plate to transform it into a road vehicle. Prices start at ß57 000 (about R811 000). While Brezina is already planning to take his wife and two children to London aboard GyroDrives, inventors worldwide are frantically working on prototypes of cars that fly.
In Slovakia, the AeroMobil company says it has received dozens of orders from customers for a flying car expected to hit the market in 2020.
Last month, Japan’s Toyota also unveiled plans to launch a three-wheel flying car dubbed SkyDrive, using retractable wings and drone technology.
Silicon Valley flying car startup Kitty Hawk, reportedly backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, announced plans in April for deliveries of a “personal flying machine” this year.
Other firms, including ride-sharing service Uber, also have soaring ambitions for their flying car prototypes.