A flying ‘hypercar’, capable of reaching a top speed of 220kph at 3,000ft, has been tested in Dubai.
A scaled-down version of the fully electric ‘volar’ eVTOL prototype made the test flight in November, but was only revealed this week by its maker, London-based start-up Bellwether Industries.
eVTOL stands for electric vertical takeoff and lift aircraft.
A video shows the supercar-like vehicle taking off, reaching an altitude of about 13ft and a top speed of 40kph, before making a controlled landing.
Bellwether Industries said it is working on various projects to improve its prototype, which it has called Antelope.
It was previously on display at several events, including Dubai Airshow 2021, but the footage gives the first indication of how it will fly. The vehicle is not yet ready to fly among the skyscrapers of Dubai, with testing carried out in a desert location, but is designed to navigate such high-rise cities.
The final model will carry four to five people at 3,000ft, reaching a top speed of 220kph.
It is designed to replace private cars and on-demand transport, such as Uber, reducing congestion on the roads.
The company aims to have the full-size prototype ready and tested by 2023, according to reports.
It expects it will be available for on-demand transport by 2028 and by 2030 for private owners.
“We believe that people commuting in the sky is inevitable within the next 10 years,” the company says.
Bellwether says Volar is “a new category of transport, an urban air mobility aircraft for private use”.
“Our volar will explore all options of intracity travel and the future lifestyle.”
The vehicles will take off and land vertically, be compact, environmentally friendly and include a hidden propulsion system.
The company claims it is the first vehicle of its kind without a large wingspan or exposed blades.
But other types of flying cars are in development.
The US Federal Aviation Administration said urban air mobility vehicles (UAM), like Bellwether’s prototype, envision a “safe and efficient aviation transportation system that will use highly automated aircraft that will operate and transport passengers or cargo at lower altitudes within urban and suburban areas”.
They could be used for inter-city travel, cargo delivery and public transport, as well as for private use, it said.
“The initial UAM ecosystem will utilize existing helicopter infrastructure such as routes, helipads, and air traffic control services, where practicable given the aircraft characteristics.
“Looking toward the future, the FAA is working to identify infrastructure design needs for these aircraft. FAA expects to develop a new vertiport standard in the coming years.”