For as long as there have been cars and air travel, imaginative people expect the two to meet, and maybe they finally have.
When it comes to the future, nothing says “space age” like a flying car, but the technology has always been too tough to crack. At least, it was until just a few weeks ago. A young man who goes by Kyxz Mendiola with no engineering background finished a project he’d been working on for years. A project that would allow him to fly. Yet, what started out as a lark and a hobby has turned into a potentially successful commercial venture and one that could maybe change, well, everything.
If someone were to successfully create, market, and (most importantly) sell aerial transport vehicles that are as easy to pilot as cars? That would likely represent as seismic a shift in society and culture as it did when the horseless carriages started puttering past horse-drawn wagons. However, it’s not just as “easy” as inventing the technology. There are a number of other considerations before we can all take to the sky like the Jetsons.
The Problems With Flying Cars
Whenever someone asks why we don’t yet have flying cars, you should feel confident to answer that we do. No, not because of this new invention. Rather, because “flying cars” are essentially what helicopters are. Unless some laws-of-physics-subverting technology is discovered, rotary flight is the only option for small aircraft like this. Yet, piloting these vehicles is not as easy as driving a car. For example, helicopter pilots send a lot of time learning how to operate their aircraft. They have to study the craft, learn the controls, and take a series of tests. After this, they have to spend at least 40 hours in the air, ten of which must be solo, before they are fully licensed.
Flying is hazardous enough, but in multiplying the air traffic you multiply the risk. It is a sad fact of statistics that if you put more aircraft in the air, there will be more air accidents. Of course, driving isn’t exactly the safest thing you can do. There are millions of car accidents where people are injured, or worse, each year. This is the acceptable risk of driving. However, will we have the stomach, societally speaking, to handle even only a few accidents from a new technology? A handful of yahoos buzzed airliners with drones, and a flurry of restrictive legislation followed. Would something like this, that technically would fall under the jurisdiction of the aviation administrations of respective countries, stand a chance?
It’s No Longer Theoretical, This Tech Already Exists
Mendiola seems unconcerned with such large questions. Instead, he focused on a singular objective: to fly without going through the rigors of pilot training. Part of the successful Philippine All Stars dance crew, the money he made went right into this project. He originally wanted to create something akin to the hoverboard from Back to the Future and the Green Goblin’s air sled from Spider-Man. In the latter half of 2017, he developed a prototype and conducted successful test flights. However, the design then changed into what he calls the “drone car.”
Using a single-person cockpit made from carbon fiber, Mendiola built a metal frame extending out like the legs of a spider. Each leg features two rotors, for a total of sixteen, which allow him to control the vehicle much like the hobby drones people use for aerial footage. He developed a redundant battery system that will allow the vehicle to stay aloft should one fail or experience a power drain. For now, the craft can fly for about 12 to 15 minutes and reach heights of about ten feet from the ground. As you can see from the video, it’s a solid first effort, but is it ready for mass marketing?
A Deal Has Been Signed to Mass-Produce These Vehicles
Mendiola claims to have reached a deal with Star8 International, according to an announcement on his Facebook page. Star8 is a company focused on creating clean, green technology. They have a transport division that features a number of solar-powered vehicles, of designs used mostly in Asia and Africa. Last year, they pledged to give 1,300 free solar powered “jeepney” mass transit vehicles away in Manila, the capital city in the Philippines. To qualify, a licensed jeepney operator would have to trade in their gas-powered vehicle. Since the drone car runs from battery-powered electricity, it is the sort of zero-emissions tech that fits their company profile.
Mendiola says that an updated and improved version of the drone car, a two-seater in fact, will be available for purchase next year. He says they plan to sell them in Australia, Japan, Dubai, Malaysia, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United States. It’s unclear, however, if these vehicles are even legal in those countries. In the United States, at least, there is no question that this nascent industry will be the subject of heavy regulation. So much so that it might kill any other innovators from breaking into the field. If it even gets that far, that is.
Whether or not Mendiola is able to mass-produce and sell his invention, that he finished it a remarkable achievement.
Mendiola started this project because it was something he wanted for his own use. He had no formal training and learned everything he needed to know from the internet. In a Facebook post, he talks about persevering through a number of failures and still finding the drive to keep going. His commitment and drive shows that anything is possible. While the drone car might not be the next quantum leap in human transport, it’s definitely cool. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing more of the and Mendiola’s innovations in the future.
What do you think? Would you want a drone car? Do you think we’ll ever have flying cars like science-fiction predicted? Share your thoughts, theories, and experiences in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to share the article on social media if you liked it!
Related Article: Will Passenger Drones Finally Grant Us Access to Flying Cars?