Detroit Auto Show to feature aerial craft, other flying vehicles for first time

Cars can be driven and planes are piloted. But what's it called when the car can fly?

"Driving in the sky sounds a bit goofy - it's a bit clunky," said Rani Plaut.

Plaut is CEO of AIR, one of the few manufacturers racing to make flying cars not just a pipe dream seen in movies, but a form of transportation that any consumer can own. He says the barriers to creating a market for flying cars extends beyond just the obvious like engineering and regulatory issues. 

There's also a mental barrier for many people don't see themselves at the helm of a car hovering over the road rather than driving on it.

"The change is partly psychological," Plaut said. "A drone is a toy or a defense-oriented instrument. If you say ‘airplane’, you shift into the domain of professionals who fly over the lake on the weekend. And when you say ‘drive’ and ‘car’ and ‘road’, those things are seamlessly integrated into our lives."

The AIR ONE, the first model developed by Plaut's firm to successfully hover, took flight this July. 

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AIR ONE is an eVTOL - electric vehicle takeoff landing - and represents one of the biggest pushes into the air mobility industry. The all-electric aircraft has two seats, can carry around 550 lbs, and reaches speeds up to 155 mph. 

As it prepares to start filling pre-orders for the aerial vehicle, AIR is introducing itself to regular consumers around the U.S. That includes the Detroit auto show this upcoming week.

"I've been to the auto show, but I've never seen an aircraft at one," Plaut said. "I'm happy to be the first (to bring one)."

AIR will be one of six aerial mobility companies whose technology will be on display at the Detroit Auto Show this September. An identical version of the model that flew earlier this year will be on display for people to see. There will also be a virtual reality simulator for the public to test out. 

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Also in attendance will be Airspace Experience Technologies (ASX), Aerwin Technologies, Gravity Industries, Icon Aircraft, and Omni Hoverboards. According to the North American International Detroit Auto Show website