DETROIT (FOX 2) - Imagine your drive to work is just a quick flight. That could open up the possibilities of where you live dramatically! Alef wants that to be a reality as it unveiled its plan to build and sell flying cars.
On Wednesday, during the first day of media availability at the 2023 Detroit Auto Show, Alef Aeronautics unveiled its concept for a flying car.
The flying car, which took several years for the company to develop and is autonomous, was flown during the media days of the auto show. It's powered by four small engines where wheels would traditionally sit, is equipped with a mesh on the top to allow air through for the propellors
It's 100% electric, has a maximum flying range of 200 miles, made of ultra-light carbon fiber material, and is environmentally friendly. It's also made to be safer than anything that flies today.
He said it has more safety features than helicopters and airplanes
There was a major problem to solve: how to make it aerodynamic and how to fly it without wings - which would break the laws of physics.
To solve the problem, the car, after take-off, turns vertical with the driver remaining in the center in a ‘gimbal cabin’, which is similar to a gyroscope.
Alef CEO Jim Dukhovny unveiled the car, which he said has three modes: flying, driving, and what he calls hopping.
"If you want to get from point a to point b, you choose how you get there," he said.
There are some drawbacks, however, namely that you need a pilot's license to fly the vehicle.
Dukhovny said they're still working with the FAA to get legal authorization. He expects that, within ten years, they can get the price of the car down to $35,000 and no longer require a pilot's license to operate.
To date, there are 12 full-size prototypes.
Alef unveiled video of a flying car prototype at the 2023 Detroit Auto Show
Dukhovny then unveiled a video of the flying car - which looks like a large boxy drone as it takes off and maneuvers. The prototype on the showroom floor was much sleeker than the one in the video.
The one on the floor of the auto show ultimately did not take off.
He then explained why they're building flying cars and said it's all about time – saying that, on average, we spend a week of our entire year sitting in traffic.
"I want to give that time back to you," he said. "The time of cars is over. The time of lying cars starts today."
The idea has been around fo decades but Alef got its founding at an interesting time - October 2015. We say it's interesting because the futuristic company was started at the same time that Marty McFly traveled to the future in Back To The Future. So while Marty saw a fictional flying car, the engineers that are actually building one started to make that sci-fi dream a reality.
For the rest of the decade, the company that ultimately became Alef developed versions of flying vehicles.
According to Slef's website, the first sub-scale prototype was built in 2016. It was the size of a human's arm - but set the stage for what could happen at a larger scale. It showed to investors that it was possible, which led to an infusion of money and, eventually, expansion.
In 2018, the first full-size skeleton was flown and a prototype was developed the next year and flown. In the next decade, Dukhovny said flying cars will no longer be a dream – but will become a reality.