Aska, a startup founded in 2018, is working to bring a flying car to market.
The A5 will cost $789,000 and have a cruising speed of 150 mph, the firm says.
I got a ride in the California-based startup's first prototype.
Every now and then, when I'm stuck in particularly mind-numbing bumper-to-bumper traffic, I fantasize about being able to flip a switch, spark some jet engines, and blast off into the sky.
"See ya, suckers!" I'd yell down to the losers in their crappy, land-bound cars. But all they'd hear is the deafening roar of me beating them to the Taylor Swift concert.
I'm not the only one. The idea of a car that can seamlessly transition into flight has obsessed humans for decades. Still, despite numerous attempts, they haven't taken off yet. One startup wants to change that with an ambitious plan to land flying cars in customers' driveways by 2026.
California-based Aska has been developing its first model, the A5, since 2018, and I recently got a ride in its first prototype. Will the A5 upend the way we all get around? It's impossible to say after a brief ride in an unrefined vehicle that's nowhere close to what future buyers may experience.
Plus, we stuck to land, tootling around an airport tarmac for about 10 minutes at low speeds. (Aska just got the government's permission for test flights, and it's only done some hovering so far.)
But Guy Kaplinsky, Aska's cofounder and CEO, told Insider he aims to revolutionize the morning commute. Flying cars, he said, will offer people the luxury of living farther from their offices in pricey cities — without needing to spend half their waking hours traveling.
Powered by electric motors and a range-extending gas generator, the A5 will be able to zip through the air at 150 mph and cover 250 miles between fueling stops, Aska says. Its six propellers will allow it to take off and land vertically, like a giant drone, or horizontally like a conventional plane. The final version will seat four people, but the vehicle I rode in only had two seats.
What about the driving part? That's what sets Aska apart from other buzzy upstarts working on electric aircraft. Joby and Lilium, for example, envision city skies swarming with airborne taxis. Jetson and Doroni have their sights set on personal flying machines. Most companies in the space aren't thinking about driving on land.
Before hitting the road, its wings collapse inward, in theory making it easier to maneuver around other cars. But, as you might expect from a vehicle that looks to be about 95% helicopter and 5% car, the A5 is most at home in the skies. Kaplinsky says it's designed to drive 10 miles or less, between a customer's home or workplace and an airstrip.
Still, Aska wants to make the A5 somewhat convenient on land. It's currently the size of a Ford F-350 pickup truck (very, very large), and Kaplinsky wants to shrink it down to the footprint of an F-150 (just very large). At first, Aska is looking to get the A5 approved for local roads with slower speeds. That's where the prototype can drive, too.
Owning an A5 outright will cost $789,000 to start, but Kaplinsky also has grand plans for an accessibly priced car-sharing service.
Although my time with the Aska gave me some hope for our science-fiction future, it also left me disheartened.
Kaplinsky told me that hopping over traffic in a flying car isn't realistic — with our current understanding of physics, anyway. As long as flight requires pushing massive amounts of air, taking off so close to other cars would be too dangerous. You'd need some kind of silent, UFO-like propulsion system to make it work, he said.
So, to anyone who's shared my boredom-induced daydreams behind the wheel: Keep dreaming.
Read the original article on Business Insider