I suppose it’s transformative technology in its own way. Slovakia-based company AeroMobil’s flying car, despite appearances, isn’t going to redefine transportation, but it can transform from a light airplane to a car, and after years of testing, it’s available for preorder. Think of it as a Transformer toy, but for like, really rich people.
At the risk of oversimplification, there are two kinds of hypothetical flying cars — cars that can fly, and airplanes that can drive on roads. The difference is significant — flying cars of science fiction dreams are cars that can fly, taking off from roads with relative ease (you can also think of these as cars that can take off vertically). AeroMobil’s first edition flying car isn’t one of those. It’s an airplane first, requiring a runway and lots of clearance to actually get airborne. The more interesting part of the vehicle is what it can do while on the ground — the wings fold back into the body, allowing drivers to cruise freely on the road with other cars.
As a light aircraft, a pilot’s license and a runway is needed to legally fly the vehicle, so it’s not the thing that’s going to take us to the promised land of Blade Runner. It’s not a speedster, either — it can only go up to 99 mph on the road, with a 435-mile range. It has 466 miles of flight range, but it’ll be going even slower than when on the road.
In the end, I don’t think I exaggerated — it’s a Transformer toy, but for really rich people (who have their pilot’s license!). And they do need to be rich — the base model costs $1.3 million. If we’re being real, the fact that the announcement was made in Monaco tells you all you really need to know. Preorders have started, but production models aren’t expected to be ready until 2020. Whether or not AeroMobil is as good at sticking to ambitious deadlines as Tesla is remains to be seen.