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Buzz grows on ‘flying cars’ ahead of major tech show

January 4, 2019

Photo: AFP

Will flying cars take off at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas?

Well, sort of.

The prototypes won’t be soaring over the Las Vegas Strip during the technology extravaganza which runs from January 8-11. But a number of flying car designs will be on display, portending what many see as an inevitable airborne future for short-range transport with vertical take-off and landing, or VTOL.

NFT Inc co-founders Maki and Guy Kaplinsky, a couple developing a flying vehicle in Israel and California, will have their vision on display at the show with a media session on Sunday.

“We believe we have a winning design that will enable us to make the Model T of flying cars – a low-cost production model,” Guy said outside a Silicon Valley office park where a prototype model was being assembled.

A doorway to the rear of the NFT office in Mountain View opened onto large blue tarps hung from the ceiling to hide the workshop.

A team of veteran aviation engineers is focused on research at the start-up’s facility in Israel, and the founders plan to expand the staff of 15 people.

NFT co-founder Guy Kaplinsky poses with a model propeller before a curtain concealing work the startup is doing on a flying car in the Silicon Valley. Photo: AFP

The start-up is designing hardware and software, while enlisting original equipment manufacturers to crank out products at scale.

“We learned from Tesla that Elon Musk spent too much time on the production side,” Guy said, adding that his team was time on the technology side and will partner with companies on assembly.

The NFT vehicle with a projected price tag of $50,000 will function as a car, but be able to take off or land vertically and fly on auto-pilot.

Regular Joes?

Several companies, including Uber and start-ups backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, are working on people-carrying drones or similar flying vehicles.

In Japan, volunteers in a ‘Cartivator’ group are out to build a ‘Skydrive’ flying car and have set their sights on using one to light the flame at the opening of the Olympic games in Tokyo in 2020.

The crowdfunded effort is being backed by Japanese auto giant Toyota, where some Cartivator members work.

A scaled-down replica of ‘Toyota’s flying car’ is to be shown at CES.



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