The odd vehicle transforms from being a trike on the road into an autogyro in the air.
Pal-V is finally ready to let customers take off in the company’s flying cars because the firm is now taking orders for its Liberty Pioneer and Liberty Sport. However, the first deliveries don’t begin until 2018.
On the road, the Liberty operates as a trike. The suspension also hunkers down compared to when in flight, and the vehicle even leans into corners. Its 100-horsepower (75-kilowatts) engine allows for acceleration to 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) in around nine seconds, according to the company.
When drivers want to go skyward, the rotor unfurls in three to five minutes. Before takeoff, a person just needs to manually unfold the rotor blades and propeller.
There’s no worry about wings because the Liberty is an autogyro. This means that the rotor doesn’t get power. Instead the propulsion from the propeller at the rear causes the blades on top to spin and create lift. Like a plane, it still requires a runway for takeoff and landing.
Pal-V estimates the Liberty can fly 248 miles (399 kilometers) at its takeoff max weight and allowing for half an hour of reserve fuel upon landing. With a single person inside, the range grows to 310 miles (499 km). Its max velocity is 112 mph (180 kph) but cruising speed is between 87 and 100 mph (140 to 161 kph).
The Liberty doesn’t quite solve the dream of getting stuck in traffic and then taking flight, but it does give pilots a single solution for getting around. They can drive to the airport, fly to their destination, and then switch the vehicle back into a car for the final distance.
Pal-V is launching with 90 examples of the Liberty Pioneer Edition that sell for $599,000 or 499,000 euros. These come fully loaded with generally optional features like dual controls and an electronic instrument display. The Liberty Sport without these features arrives later for $399,000 or 299,000 euros. Regardless of the model, buyers get flight instruction in how to operate the vehicle.
The flying car continues to be the dream of many engineers, and companies like AeroMobil and Terrafugia are still trying to make the idea work. Even Toyota has received multiple patents for figuring out how to combine an automobile and an airplane.