I love the scene near the beginning of 1997 sci-fi movie The Fifth Element when “perfect being” Leeloo crashes into cab driver Korben’s flying taxi; she asks him for help when the police come for her, and a wild flying car chase through the skies of futuristic Manhattan ensues. Flying cars still seem like science fiction to me, but then again, so did self-driving vehicles at one point. But the idea of flying to the grocery store just took a step toward reality – San Francisco- and Moscow-based company Hoversurf, which developed the Scorpion 3 Hoverbike, just unveiled its flying car, dubbed the FORMULA Project.

“We want to give people the freedom they have always dreamed of – the freedom to fly. Thanks to advances in personal drones, it is now possible,” says Hoversurf.

“Do you know the problem with all flying car projects? They’re all made for the future. They’re impossible to park and impractical for daily use. FORMULA was created for the present day…”

The company’s mission is flying for everyone, so no one has to deal with traffic jams and traffic lights. The vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) Hoversurf FORMULA has fold-out wings, which mean that it’s able to fit into standard parking spaces, and even garages. The car can seat up to five passengers at once, and is powered by 48 electric thrusters, and 52 turbine propulsion units.

Hoversurf has spent years working to advance personal drone technology, and gathering feedback and advice from people who are interested in flying cars becoming a reality. The company has taken this advice seriously, and equipped the FORMULA with some pretty cool features.

“Imagine you’re leaving the supermarket with tons of bags and your children. FORMULA detects your key and opens without you having to press a button,” the company says.

According to the company, the FORMULA is just like a normal car, and was designed for comfort, from the interior to the doors; and just like a lot of normal cars these days, 3D printing technology is used to build it.

The company uses 3D printed carbon fiber and 3D printed metal to make the body of the FORMULA, and it navigates through the air using 3D vision technology. Speaking of navigating through the air, Hoversurf used the technology behind the Venturi electric turbine to make dynamic, folding wings, so there are no noisy propellers on the FORMULA. Most S/VTOLs use rotating propellers to switch from a vertical takeoff into airplane mode, which Hoversurf says “caused 90% of the accidents of the famous V-22 Osprey.”

According to the website, FORMULA does not have rotary engines, as it is not an airplane or a helicopter, but a machine that combines the two in a unique system that allows aircraft to operate simultaneously as both, explaining:

“Unlike other S/VTOL, these systems work independently of each other. If the wings break off, FORMULA can still safely land. If 50% of the turbines malfunction, FORMULA can still safely land.”

[Image: Italdesign]

Hoversurf is ready to make the prototype FORMULA, which should take to the friendly skies next year and cost around $97,000. But it’s not the only company working on flying cars.

Airbus, which often uses 3D printing technology to make aircraft parts, debuted plans this spring to develop the Pop.Up, a flying car that’s part drone and part self-driving vehicle. It is “designed to be coupled with two different and independent electric propelled modules (the ground module and the air module).” The company worked on the design plans with design and engineering company Italdesign, and the futuristic concept was presented at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show. Airbus says its flying car concept, which is basically a pod with wings on top of a wheeled-platform, could help reduce congestion on the road in busy cities – the upper part of the vehicle could detach from the platform, release its wings, and soar away.

Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or let us know your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.

[Source: Express / Images: Hoversurf, unless otherwise noted]

 

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