AUSTIN, Texas – The conversation over driverless cars is still picking up steam, but one automotive engineer already has moved on to the next topic: flying cars.
Juraj Vaculik, CEO and co-founder of AeroMobil, said the company hopes to have a flying car ready to sell to the public by 2017, though regulatory barriers still remain for everything from safety rules to licensing.
"We need to merge 100 years of bureaucracy in the air and 100 years of bureaucracy on the ground," said Vaculik, a native of Czechoslovakia from an area that now is Slovakia.
The AeroMobil is designed to drive on public roads, then convert in a few minutes, with wings and propeller emerging from the fuselage. It needs about 200 yards of runway to take off and 50 yards of runway to land.
It can use a grass runway, Vaculik said. One runway configuration could be a grass strip along a highway outside a city, with a ramp so that the car could reach the highway to drive into the city, he said.
The prototype is a two-seater, with a safety parachute to allow the vehicle to drop to the ground in the event of an emergency, he said.
According to company specifications, the car's takeoff speed is 81 miles per hour. Its top flying speed is about 120 miles per hour, with a 430-mile range in the air.
Vaculik didn't give an expected sticker price for the flying car, but he said the target market would be wealthy buyers and aviation enthusiasts.
He also announced that the company has created an advisory board, including Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway transporter and other devices.