DeLorean family has been in the coach making business for quite some time now, with the most well-known member being John DeLorean, the famous founder of the automaker that produced the famous vehicle from the Back to the Future franchise. And now his nephew, Paul DeLorean is the CEO and chief designer of DeLorean Aerospace, the company he founded in 2012 to develop a real life flying car.
The long history in the business has led Paul into one of the hottest areas of transportation development today. His plans include building a two-seat vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) personal air transport vehicle, or, if you’re a normal person, you’d call it a flying car.
Experts in the field say that these plans aren’t unrealistic due to the new lightweight materials, sophisticated computer controls, and better batteries. Even Uber plans on launching a flying fleet in Dubai by 2020.
And with the ride-sharing in mind, there might be even a business case to make these things work in cities, too. The only problem will be to figure out how to safely deploy the vehicles, especially when it comes to air traffic control and certification.
As far as the design of the DeLorean’s DR-7 aircraft goes, it is one the more realistic side of the field, even though that doesn’t say a lot due to the field situation itself. With a two set of wings, one in the front and one in the back, plus some winglets underneath, as well as two large ducted fans, mounted along the center line, front and back, the aircraft will be able to swivel from horizontal for takeoff, and vertical for forwarding flight.
Although it’s nearly 20 feet long and 18.5 feet wide, the aircraft has the ability to tuck its wings against the side, so it will be able to squeeze into a large garage. Propulsion is all electric, and DeLorean aims to make the craft self-flying, so anyone can use it, no special license required.
Two scale models have already been built, even though the R&D phase is still happening. The first model is only 30 inches long, and it was made to prove that the physics works. The next was an engineering model, one-third scale. According to DeLorean, the company is moving towards the full-sized aircraft that will be able to carry two passengers and will be able to operate on electric energy for a range of 120 miles.
A far as battery-powered aircraft goes, that is an optimistic range. Neva Aviation’s AirQuadOne, with fans at each corner, promises no more than 25 miles. Airbus’ Vahana project is shooting for 50. Both of these are enough to get you from one end of the city to another, but it would seem that DeLorean wants to go further.
The full-sized prototype should be completed within a year, DeLorean says, planning to find an area in the California desert and test the aircraft before sticking anybody onboard.
As far as the price goes, and the date when you’ll be able to hand over all your money for this adult toy, this is still to be determined. DeLorean, though, sees this aircraft as something more. He believes that the design could solve many problems that transportation creates, like deteriorating infrastructure, pollution, and road congestion.
With his enthusiasm and some realistic engineering, experts believe it may only be five to 15 years until nobody needs roads to get where they’re going.