Back in the early 1990s, we were sure that by 2012 we'd be flying everywhere. Flying to work, flying to the corner store, flying over to our friend's house to watch a movie. Well, we might not have the technology to do that just yet, but we can still dream. I'm sure one day my kids will be asking "Hey dad, can i borrow the flying car?"
Here are a few of the flying car concepts that might one day be parked in my (my kids'? my grandkids'?) driveway.
Photo by: Terrafugia
When DARPA put out a call last year for a military-grade flying car, Texas based AVX responded with this concept for a four-passenger vehicle capable of carrying a 1,040-lb. payload 250 miles on a single tank of fuel.
With a top speed of 80 miles per hour on land and 140 miles per hour in the air, it can -- hypothetically -- cruise at 10,000 feet and hit that 250-mile mark.
Folding coaxial rotor blades make the armored transport capable of vertical take-offs and landings, and it can transform from aircraft to road ready in just 60 seconds.
Photo by: AVX
Germany's Carplane GmbH says its "bimodal Convergence Vehicle," the Carplane, is designed to be a light sport aircraft capable also of motorway-speed driving -- and the company says the vehicle will be in the hands of consumers in just four years.
Initially, it will be available only in kit form, and it won't be cheap. The first carplanes will cost around 200,000 euros ($266,000), but the design does seem a bit less wonky than other flying car transformers. Manufacturers are hoping that with increased demand and higher rates of production, the model could go into full factory production, potentially cutting the price in half.
The wings of the Carplane fold and stow as a single element between the vehicle's twin hulls, as seen above, providing a sleeker more aerodynamic profile.
Photo by: Carplane GmbH
When the Yee's four wheels rotate 90 degrees, the two rear wheels protruding from the body, the vehicle becomes airborne, powered by four turbines, gliding on the wings unfolding from the body.
The Yee was designed by South China University of Technology (SCUT) industrial design students Pan Jiazhi, Zhu Wenxi and Lai Zexin. Last month, their creation won the Gold Award for Best Creative Future at the First International Concept Car Design Contest in Beijing.
Photo by: Yee
Perhaps the most practical vehicle available for a consumer-ready flying car is the PAL-V One. Conversion from plane to car takes about 10 minutes as the propeller, tail, and rotor mast fold in.
The three-wheeled vehicle is especially sleek and agile, less clunky than many flying car concepts, and will handle well on the road thanks to it's "tilting" system that makes it corner like a sports car, PAL-V says.
Photo by: PAL-V
Carter Aviation Technologies autogyro
Hybrid helicoptor-airplane designs are perhaps some of the best practical technologies for a personal flying car design, as shown in the Carter Aviation Technologies autogyro.
The four-seater doesn't hover in the air like a traditional helicopter, but does offer a convenient vertical takeoff and landing that does away with the need for a long, specially built runway.
Carter's SR/C technology slows rotor and wings during level flight, allowing it to fly more efficiently than a helicopter, with a rear propeller providing thrust.
Photo by: Carter Aviation Technologies
The stylish Parajet SkyCar uses a ram-air wing and is said to be capable of taking off from a short runway of less than 200 meters. In place of fixed wings, it uses a parasail.
Photo by: Parajet
The Honda Fuzo Concept flying car
Although it's just a concept vehicle, the Honda Fuzo seems to be an ideal personal flying car.
Four turbines propel the vehicle, which is in theory capable of speeds of up to 400 mph. A carbon fiber design makes the vehicle super lightweight, important because it means operation will require a minimum amount of power.
Photo by: Honda
The Jetson's family vehicle is still the epitome of what we all want from a flying car.
Photo by: The Jetsons
The M400 Skycar, which runs on ethanol, is a vertical-take-off-and-landing aircraft with a projected top speed of over 350 mph and a range of around 750 miles.
David, Calif.-based Moller International is planning on manufacturing and distributing its flying car in China, with a production goal of 100,000 units per year by 2018.
Photo by: Moller International
Convair model Model 116
How do you make a flying car? We've come a long way. In 1947 you started by attaching an airplane to a car, of course.
Convair's model Model 116, designed by Theodore Hall had a 25-horsepower Crosley engine powering the plastic-bodied, four-seat car and a 190-horsepower Lycoming O-435C built on the 34.5-foot wing for flying.
The prototype flew for the first time on November 1, 1947. Three weeks later, however, it crashed when it ran out of gas.