Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing Vehicle (EVTOL) startup Alef announced Monday the Federal Aviation Authority has approved its Model A flying car, Newsweek reports.
This is the first vehicle the FAA has approved with a Special Airworthiness Certificate for use in the U.S.
Alef CEO Jim Dukhovny, in a video presentation last October, said the San Mateo, Calif.-based company had been test flying its car since 2018. The flying EVTOL has a range of 110 miles and sells for $300,000, Dukhovney said.
The Alef Model A has eight rotating blades on the undercarriage of its mesh-like body, designed to be aerodynamic as well as to protect its two passengers from the blades. It also has four wheels propelled by hub motors, Forbes reports.
It rises from the ground like a multirotor drone, and, once it is a few meters airborne, the flying car rotates sideways to propel forward like a box-wing airplane. The passenger seats also turn upright.
“The whole car becomes a wing—a biplane, a circular wing,” Dukhovny said.
Alef intends to bring its Model A to market in 2025 and, by the 2030s, produce a $35,000 model to make shorter commutes and the ability to fly above and sidestep traffic a mainstream reality.
The Alef is designed to fit into a regular parking space or garage and take off and land anywhere a local authority has granted permission for flying cars.
Theoretically, any residence, parking garage or office building rooftop should be able to build a “vertiport” to accommodate the vehicles. They will need electric vehicle or hybrid fuel chargers.
Other flying car prototypes do not have substantial wheels, so it remains to be seen how well the Alef or other flying cars will navigate on the road.
Another potential problem for flying cars, like EVs, will be the weight and safety of its batteries, unless the industry is able to develop a lighter and more fire-resistant solution than what is used now.
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