Alef describes its still-in-development electric vehicle, the Model A, as the world’s first real flying automobile. The company envisions the Model A to have the sleek appearance of an electric car plus the ability to take off and soar vertically for 110 kilometers (68 miles).
The company aspires to compete in a market dominated by technologically superior rivals like AirCar and the Pal-V gyrocopter, which are already capable of flight and propulsion.
The chief executive and co-founder of Alef, Jim Dukhovny, disagrees, claiming that most current automobiles are not strictly flying cars.
“Since a flying car must be a car, it can travel on ordinary roads and park in conventional lots. Additionally, it ought to have vertical takeoff “To the BBC, he spoke.
“What issue are you trying to resolve if an airport is necessary for takeoff? Why is this a flying car, exactly?”
Turn to fly
The Model A’s bodywork, which is shaped like a vehicle, has a mesh top surface that allows air to pass through to the eight propellers inside the body, which produce lift.
However, the amount of power needed to use these by themselves—without the aid of wings—would be prohibitive.
Alef’s new suggestion is to convert the Model A into a biplane for longer flights.
The Model A will spin onto its side after a vertical takeoff, the two-person cockpit will pivot so the driver is still looking forward, and the automobile will then transform into a biplane with the long sides of the vehicle acting as the top and bottom wings.
If you picture the mesh in-between the solid sides being removed, the Model A’s traditional biplane shape—two wings, one on top of the other—is simpler to visualize. Additionally, Alef created a movie that depicts the transformation.
According to Forbes, it would fly similarly to the Opener Blackfly, an electric vertical takeoff aircraft that is already in existence.
It’s a brilliant idea, but is it also a useful one?
Combining driving and flying adds to the weight, and using electricity also means using heavy batteries.
Aeronautical engineer Professor Steve Wright of the University of the West of England claims that the design is “exactly on the ragged edge of what the physics and technology can do, which is where you would expect it to be.”
He continues that the mesh, as imagined, may potentially produce a sizable amount of aerodynamic drag.
Since 2018, Alef claims it has successfully made the switch to a biplane in “scaled flights.” And although they don’t yet have the polished look of the company’s mock-ups and conceptions, it also has huge prototypes capable of vertical flight.
Prof. Wright cautions that it is simple to underestimate the transition from a prototype to a usable product.
Prof. Wright contends that taking a flight would actually be more like calling a taxi.
“A robot car would arrive when you pulled out your phone, take you to a location the size of a small park, where the drone would then descend, land, and you would get inside. To put it another way, you call a drone taxi.”
Autonomous passenger drones are being developed by numerous businesses. Recently, the X2 car was publicly unveiled for the first time by the Chinese company Xpeng in Dubai.
However, Mr. Dukhovny is adamant that it is appealing to be able to fly and drive at the same time. He responds “early adopters” when I ask him who will pay the Model A’s initial $300,000 (£266,000) price tag.
According to him, people have been anticipating a flying car for 100 years. Alef wants to start selling cars in 2025, which is a lofty objective.
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30 June 2021