There are companies working on flying cars, and there are those developing flying cars that are autonomous. The latter are referred to as drones, though they’re capable of ferrying passengers. Many see flying passenger drones as the future of urban mobility, and rumor has it that Porsche has one in the works.
While the German automaker hasn’t confirmed or offered much by way of details, a German automotive industry news site Automobilwoche claims the company is close to releasing the first design sketches. Porsche has yet to comment on the report, but the company’s sales director, Detlev von Platen, supposedly hinted at the possibility.
“It would take three and a half minutes to fly the plane,” von Platen told Automobilwoche, referring to how long it would take him to fly a passenger drone from Porsche’s Zuffenhausen manufacturing plant to Stuttgart Airport. A typical drive would take him “at least half an hour.”
Like most other passenger drone concepts, Porsche’s would supposedly let passengers have some control over the vehicle — but most of the flying would be automated. In practical terms, that means drivers-turned-pilots wouldn’t need to have a pilot’s license.
Beyond that, we don’t know too much about the potential project — though, given similar projects currently in development, we can imagine the possibilities. Several other companies around the globe have autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) concepts and flying taxi services in the works, including the EHang 184 from a Chinese company of the same name. The company recently showed footages of the AAV in action. There’s also a Detroit-based startup, AirSpaceX, which claims it will have a working autonomous flying taxi by 2026.
In general, many veteran carmakers are staking a claim in the AAV business: Daimler, the parent company for Mercedez-Benz, teamed up with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) maker Volocopter. The latter’s work includes those flying taxis recently tested in Dubai. Volvo parent company Geely, meanwhile, bought flying car company Terrafugia last November 2017.
If the pressure of the other company’s projects has put the heat on Porsche to get in the game, we may see those designs for a passenger drone soon. In the meantime, Volkswagen, Porsche’s parent company, has already been working with Airbus on a Pop.Up car-drone hybrid, through its design and engineering arm, Italdesign.