From ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ to ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Blade Runner’, flying cars have provided endless fascination for children and adults alike – but it is all getting closer to reality.
At the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – which was a virtual event this year – General Motors (GM) presented a futuristic flying Cadillac; a self-driving vehicle that takes off and lands vertically and carries the passenger above the streets and through the air.
The single-passenger Cadillac – technically, a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drone – will be able to travel from urban rooftop to urban rooftop at speeds up to 90 km/h.
It is fully autonomous and all-electric, with a 90 kW motor, a GM Ultium battery pack and an ultra-lightweight body with four pairs of rotors.
The flying Cadillac was presented in a video as part of a virtual keynote presentation by Chief Executive Mary Barra, along with a family-friendly Cadillac electric shuttle.
Barra last year revealed the automaker was exploring such alternative transportation modes as aerial taxis.
The concepts in the CES video were introduced by GM design chief Mike Simcoe, who described the VTOL as “the Cadillac of urban air mobility”.
“VTOL is key to GM’s vision for a multimodal future,” he said.
The autonomous Cadillac shuttle, features a boxy silhouette that recalls the Cruise Origin, also designed by Simcoe’s team. It features fore and aft sliding doors and a panoramic glass roof.
The cabin has wraparound lounge-like seating, plus biometric sensors, voice control and hand gesture recognition.
Other automakers, including Toyota Motor, Hyundai Motor and Geely Automobile, have previously shown concept aerial vehicles as part of their future planning.
“The vertical take-off and landing drone, or VTOL, is GM’s first foray into aerial mobility,” Simcoe says. “We are preparing for a world where advancements in electric and autonomous technology make personal air travel possible. It is a concept designed for the moment when time is of essence and convenience is everything you’ve been at the office and now you need to get to a meeting across town.”
“The VTOL meets you on the roof and drops you at the verti-port closest to your destination,” Simcoe added. “As a passenger, it represents personal space and a panoramic view of the world passing beneath you and is a glimpse of what autonomy and Cadillac luxury might look like in the not-too-distant future.”