Forget self-driving cars. The race to build the first flying car is now very much on. This week, Californian startup Opener officially threw its hat in the flying car ring with the debut of BlackFly, heralded as “the world’s first ultralight all-electric fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.” The single-seat aircraft (or car, depending on how you slice it), does not require its driver to have a pilot’s license, nor does it require any “special skills,” the company says. BlackFly operators will be required to complete the FAA Private Pilot written exam, however, as well as company-mandated vehicle familiarization and operator training, CEO Marcus Leng says.
The BlackFly should be able to travel distances of up to 25 miles, and reach a top speed of 62 miles per hour. The vehicle will also boast a Super Charging option, which means that it will take less than half an hour to re-power its battery. It also promises a low noise signature. Owners will be able to geofence their BlackFlys, ensuring that they stay within a predetermined area. And if all else fails, there will be an automatic return-to-home button and ballistic parachute option available.
“Opener is re-energizing the art of flight with a safe and affordable flying vehicle that can free its operators from the everyday restrictions of ground transportation,” said Leng. “We will offer competitive pricing in an endeavor to democratize three-dimensional personal transportation. Safety has been our primary driving goal in the development of this new technology. Opener will be introducing this innovation in a controlled and responsible manner.”
For the last nine years, Opener has remained in stealth mode as it developed its zero-emission flying car. Eventually, the BlackFly will cost the same amount as a sports utility vehicle, though early adopters will likely have to pay more. Moving forward, Opener hopes to bring its “highly efficient” vehicles into commuting networks, which would be powered by renewable energy and require a small percent of the power currently needed to move individuals from Point A to Point B.
“The future of aviation begins today,” said Alan Eustace, Director at Opener and former senior vice president of knowledge at Google. “The dream of flight, which was so difficult and expensive to obtain, will soon be within the reach of millions. Opener is putting the fun back into flying and opening up a new world of possibilities.”
- Terrafugia Transition flying car will finally go on sale in 2019
- 6 flying cars that you might actually be able to own (and fly) in your lifetime
- Volvo wants to build a future in which you can’t wait to commute to work
- Germany plans to put Airbus and Audi’s cool flying taxi concept into the sky
- No, this airborne Tesla isn’t the flying car Elon Musk talked about