The next goal: aviation certification.
According to the predictions in the blockbuster science-fiction film Back To The Future, we're only about five years behind. In Part 2 of the classic film, which came out in 1989, Emmett Brown aka 'Doc' and his sidekick, Marty McFly, traveled to the year 2015 in a DMC DeLorean time machine. For those watching the movie at the time, it seemed like we may just get there; instead, we're still fumbling with fully autonomous driving tech in 2020.
Nevertheless, a company called PAL-V has developed the PAL-V Liberty, which it says "inaugurates the age of the flying car." Yes, it really does fly and, in even bigger news, it's been certified as street legal in Europe.
Let's get some of the eye-widening technical details out of the way. The Liberty can seat two people and is around 157 inches long. It measures 78.7 inches in width and 66.9 inches in height. Those are the road dimensions, though, because in Flight Mode, the rotor's 423-inch diameter would be more than a minor issue when navigating congested city streets.
In Drive Mode, the Liberty will make it to 62 mph (100 km/h) in under nine seconds, while in flight mode, it can reach a top speed of around 112 mph and has a range of about 310 miles. Few mainstream manufacturers have attempted flying cars, although Audi - better known for non-flying luxury sedans like the A6 and A8 - did give it ago, with much less pleasing results.
These incredible capabilities would mean nothing if the Liberty couldn't actually be used on public roads, but that's all changed now. "We have been cooperating with the road authorities for many years to reach this milestone," said CTO Mike Stekelenburg. "The excitement you feel in the team is huge."
The next step for the groundbreaking flying car is its aviation certification with EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency), a milestone that is expected to be reached in 2022. Another 150 hours of flight testing and over 1200 test reports need to be completed before that happens. Following this, customer deliveries will begin. The Doc would be proud.