Companies like Google and Tesla are developing self-driving cars with the promise that autonomous technology will significantly improve traffic in congested areas. If you can’t wait until they become mainstream, an American technology company named Workhorse has just unveiled a massive, human-carrying drone named SureFly that lets you glide above traffic jams.
In a way, the SureFly is a hybrid. It’s equipped with a gasoline-burning generator that makes electricity and channels it to no less than eight individual electric motors. They each power a propeller, allowing the machine to take off. Once it’s in the air, the SureFly can cruise at 70 mph for up to an hour.
The supersized drone can carry up to 400 pounds. There’s space for either two adults, or one passenger and a little bit of cargo. The machine tips the scale at 1,100 pounds, thanks to the use of lightweight materials in its construction. For example, the fuselage, the props, and the seats are crafted out of carbon fiber. The coolest part is that the propeller arms fold down, allowing the SuperFly to fit in a standard car garage. You can park it right next to the W-15, which is Workhorse’s plug-in hybrid pickup truck.
You’ll need a pilot’s license to operate the SureFly, but Flying Magazine reports that the controls are fairly simple compared to other helicopters. A joystick moves the aircraft forward, buttons let the pilot dial in the desired altitude, and the on-board computer automatically adjusts the throttle. If that sounds a little bit intimidating, rest assured that Workhorse is already working on developing a fully autonomous model.
Workhorse has ensured that the SureFly can land even after a mechanical failure through full computer and electrical redundancy. If the gasoline generator fails, two 7.5-kWh lithium-ion battery packs provide enough electricity to power the propellers long enough to land. And if all hell breaks loose, the SureFly is equipped with a ballistic parachute to catch you before you hit the ground.
If the SureFly sounds like your dream machine, you can send Workhorse a refundable $1,000 deposit to receive one of the first units built. Production is scheduled to start in 2019, which is well before Airbus is set to build a comparable machine. Autoblog notes pricing is expected to start in the $200,000 range. There are a lot of cool cars you can buy for that kind of money, but none of them fly.