Chinese Tesla rival Xpeng built the most literal interpretation of 'flying car' we've seen yet — watch its maiden voyage
- Xpeng, a Chinese electric-vehicle maker that competes with Tesla, unveiled a new flying-car prototype.
- The X3 is a car with four rotors on it, enabling it to switch between driving and flying.
It's a drone! It's a car! It's ... both?
Xpeng, the Chinese electric-vehicle maker that rivals Tesla, unveiled a new flying car prototype in late October internally named the X3. It shared a video of the X3's maiden voyage that shows the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle roll out of a garage and take to the skies.
In the clip, the X3 takes off, flies forward, hovers a bit, and spins in place before returning back to the launch pad.
Most "flying car" ideas from startups are heavy on the flying, light on the car. They're personal aircraft that often don't have wheels. But the X3 looks more like a road-going car that happens to also have a giant drone attached to its roof.
"Designed for both air flight and road driving, the flying car conveniently features a sleek rotor fold-away system for seamless conversation between driving and flying," the company said in a press release.
Xpeng designed the X3 to "fly over traffic congestion, obstacles, and rivers to meet a new host of short-distance mobility needs." The company's flying-car division, Aeroht, was founded in 2013.
Many startups and established aerospace firms are working on VTOLs that may someday serve as air taxis in urban environments or complete short flights for airlines. In September, United Airlines ordered 200 VTOLs from Embraer.
But firms will have to overcome technological and regulatory hurdles before VTOLs can become a viable way to get around cities. Making flying cars a reality has proven more difficult and time-consuming than expected for some ventures. In 2020, Uber sold its air taxi division to Joby Aviation, a startup. Google-backed air-taxi startup Kittyhawk shut down in October.
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