Does this mean the future promised by “The Jetsons” in 1962 — one with flying cars — is finally coming to fruition?
The city of Paris has announced an “unprecedented” program to launch flying passenger drones — to be used as taxis during the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Pilot testing is already underway on their large-scale electric drone aircrafts which they hope will be used to shuttle sports fan from one Olympic arena to another. They hope to establish two flight paths for air taxis, to allay traffic in the densely populated city during the international event, which has seen an average of about 6 million ticket holders in recent years.
Some 30 aeronautics manufacturers throughout Europe have already been enlisted to conduct test flights at the Pontoise airfield in Cormeilles-en-Vexin, Paris, including Volocopter, Airbus, Vertical Aerospace and Ascendance, Lilium and Joby Aviation, with others expected to join the project.
Said the CEO of Aéroports de Paris, Augustin de Romanet, in a statement: “Our Pontoise airfield brings together a unique ecosystem around new air mobility and the trial platform we are launching today is unprecedented in Europe.”
Augustin de Romanet continued, “It will function as a concrete experiment to explore the field of possibilities of a decarbonised and innovative aviation, and to develop the low altitude aviation market (below 300 metres), which has been largely unexplored until now.”
Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens’ (RATP) CEO Catherine Guillouard also said, “The trials will help model an eVTOL [electric vertical takeoff and landing] flight at the scale of the vehicle, the neighbourhood and the region, in order to anticipate and confirm vertiport installation plans in the Île-de-France region.”
Organizers have tentatively established air routes between the Paris-Issy-les-Moulineaux heliport and the Saint-Cyr airfield, and from the Charles de Gaulle and Le Bourget airports and a to-be-determined landing site somewhere in the confines of Paris.
Alexandra Dublanche, vice president of the Ile-de-France Region, called the air shuttle program “a must” in a city that boasts nearly 2.2 million within its 41 square miles.
While the aircraft being developed for the 2024 Olympics are meant for air travel only, genuine road-to-sky prototypes have already appeared in recent test flights, such as the Slovakian-engineered Klein Vision AirCar which transforms from a vehicle to a plane in just three minutes. The “roadable aircraft” completed one of its longest test flights this past summer, between Slovakia’s Nitra and Bratislava airports.
And, in 2020, Japanese firm SkyDrive Inc. made one of the world’s first successful test flights of a flying car with a passenger aboard, which the company hopes to bring to market by 2023.
Traditional car companies, too, are entering the airspace race to see their flying vehicles take over the skies, including Hyundai and Renault.