If you’ve dreamed of the day you could go from driving down the road and – like the Jetsons – take to the skies, it is getting closer to becoming a reality.
Samson Motors of Central Oregon, in the US, has created the Switchblade – the world’s first flying sports car. And last week the company announced the craft has successfully completed gruelling suspension and engine testing taking it a step closer to a spring 2018 launch.
“We started from the beginning with the purpose to design a flying car that provided high performance in both modes,” said Sam Bousfield, CEO of Samson. “Instead of asking ‘how do you make a car fly?’, we asked ‘what layout should a flying/driving vehicle have?’ and designed a vehicle based upon that layout.”
The Switchblade’s design concept is taking a markedly different course from the Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) vehicles that have been touted by investors like Google and Airbus.
“There is a huge difference between the Switchblade and any of the VTOL attempts. It isn’t just that the VTOL is so much slower, or so limited in range. It is the lack of infrastructure in place to be able to use them,” explains Bousfield. “You would have to build landing places and parking spots for these types of vehicle at every place you want to visit – shops, restaurants, apartment buildings, office buildings, dentists, doctors, schools – and this is a many decades-long, difficult process.”
The Switchblade combines the use of current road and airport systems to bypass the worst of traffic congestion, but still provides door-to-door travel.
Bousfield adds: “As any pilot can attest, there is a huge amount of space in the skies to accommodate air traffic. Expansion could remain unhindered for many, many decades. The US has literally thousands of small airports within easy reach of most places that people would want to go.
“Having the ability to land and drive somewhere really makes a difference. It just takes so much time out of doing business, or traveling for pleasure. You are never stopped, even by bad weather,” says Bousfield.