We've seen multiple
flying car self-flying electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) concepts lately, as short air travel has been tabbed as a next-gen solution for urban transportation issues. But many of those crafts are still in the early design stages.
The latest company to debut its designs for a flying machine is Passenger Drone, which emerged from a three-year-long stealth mode to show off its two-seater prototype. The craft is slightly bigger than a small car and boasts 16 individual electric engines and rotors for zero-emissions air travel.
The start-up has an edge on some of its bigger and better-known competitors, which include established companies like Airbus and Uber. Unlike many other VTOL designs, Passenger Drone has lived up to its name, showing off footage of test flights with human passengers.
The company says the first manned flights took place in August. Human occupants were able to control the craft manually using a joystick and touchscreen panel, or to allow the computer to fly in autonomous mode. Passenger Drone estimates that the craft has a range of about 20 miles, with a top speed of 50 mph, according to Electrek.
You can check out some footage of the craft's maiden flight below.
The VTOL didn't go very high or travel far beyond its immediate area — but the test flight was just a first step.
Along with automated and manual control options, Passenger Drone says the crafts can be remotely operated from great distances (like, EU to North America far) via a 4G network, as you might expect from a vehicle being billed as a drone.
The Passenger Drone prototype still has a ways to go before it's ready to autonomously zip around cities, however — the company told Electrek it's planning to announce more information at next year's CES conference.