Samson Motors has joined the race to have the first flying cars in the sky. They will be entering the market with the world’s first 200 mph (320km/h) flying sports car, named Switchblade. The Switchblade can fly up to an altitude of 13,000 feet and at a top speed of 200 mph. It is also fitted with a safety parachute. Samson Motors has claimed that the car will be ready for launch in the spring 2018 with a starting price of $120,000.
The Switchblade prototype is a three-wheel car, designed by Oregon based Samson Motors. The car is a two-seater and has a length of 5.1 meters. It also has extendable wings and a retractable tail that can fold and extends the car length to 6.2 meters. That implies the car can be used on road and in air both.
On the ground, the Switchblade is said to have a top speed of 100 mph, however, when it flies it can hit 200 mph. Unlike verticle takeoff and landing vehicles (VTOL), the Switchblade cannot take off directly from the road. It needs to be flown from regular airports. A spokesperson for Samson said, “You can drive the Switchblade to any public airport to take off and may land at the same or any other public airport.”
“If you have privileges, you can also take off and land to any private airport.” In terms of engine, the Switchblade is powered by a 190bhp liquid-cooled 1.6-litre V4 engine which can give the car a range of around 450 miles from a 113-liter fuel tank.
While the current version uses unleaded petrol, Samson is already looking ahead to other fuel options. The Samson spokesperson added: “We have already finished layouts for both hybrid and electric drive systems pending on an appropriate battery solution.” The car is equipped with various features including a sound system, reversing camera and a digital instrument display.
There are many safety features also included in the car including parachute for the whole car, rollover protection, and crumple zones in the front and rear. Three versions of the cars exist – the Snowbird for colder climates, the Trek for heavy-duty landing, the Aurora which is a hybrid of Trek and Snowbird.
Samson says that the prices of the cars will start from $120,000. But it is not quite as simple as buying the car and setting out for a journey. You also need to own a private pilot’s license to fly it and a full driving license to operate it on the roads.
Due to its classification as an experimental or homebuilt vehicle, US laws dictate that 51 percent of the vehicle must be built by the owner. Thankfully, Samson says that this can be completed in three weeks at a Samson Build Assist Centre.
Samson is in a race with more than a dozen European and US firms. Each with its own science fiction-inspired vision for creating a new form of urban transport that is a cross between a driverless electric car and a short-hop, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. These include aerospace giant Airbus which aims to put a self-piloting taxi in the air by 2020. Kitty Hawk, a company backed by Google co-founder Larry Page and Uber, which is working with partners on its own flying taxi strategy.