In Depth

Why Aston Martin’s Vision Volante concept points to future of flying cars

British carmaker aims to help commuters bypass inner-city traffic

Aston Martin has unveiled its Volante Vision Concept flying car concept at the Farnborough Airshow, as the British carmaker joins the race to put new forms of transport in the skies. 

The company has partnered with Bedfordshire’s Cornfield University and Rolls-Royce to develop the concept, which is designed to allow owners to bypass congested city streets. 

The three-seater vehicle is capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), with two sets of rotor blades at the front to control the angle of the car, while a large rotor behind the cabin provides lift.

The concept is powered by a hybrid-electric motor provided by Rolls-Royce’s electrical devision. The design has been penned in house by Aston Martin. 

Cornfield University, meanwhile, has provided the brains behind the vehicle’s autonomous navigation systems and the user interface, which Engadget says is projected onto the “all-glass cockpit canopy”. 

Although the flying car “is very much a design concept”, Aston Martin plans to build and trial a prototype version “in about two years”, adds Autocar

Why develop a flying car?

The unveiling at the Hampshire air show may have surprised casual onlookers, most of whom will know Aston Martin for its high-end tourers, but the company has long seen the potential of flying cars. 

Speaking to Auto Express, Aston Martin marketing chief Simon Sproule said: “We’ve all got an interest in next-generation mobility and low altitude air flight.

“Marek Reichman, [Aston Martin executive vice president and creative chief] and I went to see Cranfield about 18 months ago, as we saw this as an emerging area of luxury mobility. They introduced us to Rolls-Royce in terms of propulsion systems.”

Sproule said the expansion into the flying car market should also create jobs and lead to new technological innovations.

If the Volante Vision enters production, he claims, the craft would “be able to do London to Paris non-stop in about an hour. As the crow flies that’s about 200 to 250 miles, at a speed of about 200mph. Birmingham to London could be done in half an hour.” 

Aston Martin would also join companies including Uber and Airbus in the flying car market. 

However, Uber and Airbus’s concepts take the form of flying taxis, while the Volante Vision appears to be a vehicle for private use.

Has Aston Martin made anything like this before?

Sort of. The company teamed up with submarine manufacturer Triton last September to create a submersible dubbed Project Neptune

The sub is available in strictly limited numbers and is kitted out by Aston Martin’s special operations department. 

In 2016, the company also partnered with Quintessence Yachts and naval architects Mulder Design to build its AM37 power boat.

The yacht measures more than 11 metres (36ft) in length and can reach speeds of up to 50 knots (57mph), The Daily Telegraph reports.

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