Toyota has filed a patent in the United States for what it calls a “stackable wing for an aerocar.”
Patent number US20150246720, which was published earlier this week, is a design for a multiple-wing system that can fold and be stored on the roof while the car is driving.
Toyota notes the wings can change shape based on the mode.
“Flying has always been a dream central to the history of humanity,” reads the patent. “Vehicles (aerocars) that demonstrate such capability provide operators with freedom, comfort and the ability to arrive quickly to a destination as mobility becomes three-dimensional yet remains private and personal.”
The drawing is fairly basic and doesn’t include details on how the car could take off, land or stay stable in the air. It appears to be a patent just on the wings.
The idea and development of a flying car has been around for a decades and some are getting close.
Boeing engineers build the Sky Commuter in the 1980s managing to burn through $6 million of investors’ money before scrapping the project.
But in March, Aeromobil, a Slovakian firm, announced it will be producing fully fledged consumer flying cars by 2017. The company showed off its first working flying car prototype in Montreal in 2013. The newest prototype, Aeromobile 3.0, fits into a parking spot, uses regular gas, lands within 200 metres and can carry two people for 700 kilometres at a top speed of 200 km/h. However, AeroMobil won’t be cheap. It will likely cost in the hundreds of thousands and be for “wealthy supercar buyers and flight enthusiast.”
A design team called the Terrafugia Transition is testing wings that fold like a Swiss Army knife. To use the Terrafugia you need a pilot's licence and the vehicle is longer than a pickup truck with a similar amount of space inside as a Smart Car.
Based on the Toyota patent application, it doesn’t looks like we’ll see a flying Prius in the near future, but the auto maker may just be hedging against any possible future innovation in the area of flying cars.
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