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Okay, but where are our jetpacks?
The flying car may have missed Back to the Future II‘s 2015 deadline, but it turns out it’s not that far off. Slovakian-based car company AeroMobil revealed at South by Southwest this week that its flight-worthy roadster will be available by 2017.
When it hits the market, the AeroMobil will come in a variety of models. A limited-edition version will target flight enthusiasts and supercar obsessives with serious money to throw around. This model will be able to fly for 435 miles (700 kilometers) on regular gasoline. It also comes with a partial autopilot and an automatically deploying parachute.
The high-end model doesn’t have a price yet. The company only offered a range: somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But if you’re in the market for a high-end flying car, it’s not like the number of zeros will concern you.
AeroMobil will also launch a more commoner-friendly model of its flying car. CEO Juraj Vaculik said he expected the vehicle to fit nicely into the sharing economy.
“If something like a flying Uber and flying Lyft will be on the market, I think many users will find this a very efficient way to move,” Vaculik said on stage at South By Southwest Interactive. (Many people no doubt blanched at the prospect; it’s hard enough to trust an Uber driver on the ground.)
AeroMobil’s basic car will be capable of flying 400 miles (640 kilometers) and will cut flying times in half by bypassing typical airport delays. Vaculik said he believed that flying cars would reduce traffic congestion and require only small landing strips. He envisions such areas being built on the sides of highways and next to gas stations.
Once AeroMobil proves its design ready for the road and the air, the company will face its biggest challenge: bureaucratic and legislative hurdles. While the car is designed to accommodate regulatory requirements for both cars and planes, it will still face challenges in being deemed street- and sky-legal.
“We need to match 100 years of bureaucracy in the air and 100 years of bureaucracy on the ground,” Vaculik said. “It’s not easy.”
AeroMobil debuted its winged vehicle at the Montreal Aerotech Congress in 2013. The most recent prototype, version 3.0, rolled out last fall in Vienna.
AJ Dellinger is a seasoned technology writer whose work has appeared in Digital Trends, International Business Times, and Newsweek. In 2018, he joined Gizmodo as the nights and weekend editor.