The Chinese company XPENG makes both electric cars and flying machines and now they are working to combine them into one vehicle. XPENG recently tested a car that drives like usual and can also takeoff and land vertically like a helicopter. In fact, it looks like an oversized quadcopter drone strapped to the top of a car. Four arms swing out from a giant roof rack and lift the car into the air.
The XPENG X3, which we learned about from NPR, has both automatic and manual modes. A joystick joins the usual steering wheel while the car is in flight. These pictures come from XPENG’s Tech Day video where the company showed off the prototype (above) and concept model (below) for its X3 flying car. There’s no news about when it might be available to the public. Even though the dream is to go from sitting in traffic to flying above it, XPENG says it’s not that simple. The X3 requires space in order to take off so drivers won’t be able to convert it for flight right there on the highway.
While the X3 is still in the research and development phase, XPENG’s X2 model recently took its first public flight. It is a two-seater flying machine that doesn’t also drive on roads. Video of the demonstration in Dubai shows that the aircraft is ready, but again there’s no news on when it will be available to buy.
There’s plenty of companies working on flying machines, like the Japanese SkyDrive that plans to have a flying taxi fleet ready in 2023 and the Swedish Jetson that already sells personal aircraft for $100,000. But very few both drive and fly like the XPENG X3 is designed to do. One that can is the Slovakian AirCar, which cleared flight testing earlier this year and converts from a car to an aircraft in just a few minutes.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.