Movies and TV have always informed the public’s idea of “the future.” Whether it was the bright and shiny automated city of the 1960s “The Jetsons” or the sci-fi dystopia of “Blade Runner” – “the future” felt far away. While a few dystopian portrayals of the future don’t reflect what we see today — “Blade Runner,” set in the 2020s featured a race of androids indistinguishable from humans, for instance — a lot of what we’ve grown up believing has come to pass.
Think about what daily life looks like in 2022. Machines brew individual cups of piping hot coffee from scratch in under 90 seconds. Cars are started remotely during colder weather, and smartphones respond to touch, voice, and sight.
Starting later this year, one company is getting even closer to a 1960’s science fiction writer’s fantasy with the introduction of real-life flying cars. This fall, Swedish developer Jetson Aero plans on fulfilling preorders for its Jetson One eVTOL vehicle, a single-seater that’s essentially a cross between a drone and a Formula One chassis. The car flies through the air at speeds upwards of 60 miles per hour, using an eight-rotor system that gives the user a far greater degree of control than a small passenger plane or helicopter.
Piloting the Jetson One gives an experience unlike any other vehicle on land or air. “The first time you jump in it, and it picks you up in the sky and you just start floating over a forest or over a beach or whatever you want,” said Peter Ternström, co-founder of Jetson One. “It’s incredibly fun.”
Don’t expect to see any Jetsons on your daily commute. Ternström and co-founder Tomasz Patan repeatedly emphasize that the aircraft is for entertainment only as it only has 20-minute battery life. There are also regulatory concerns. Not only are you unable to legally fly the Jetson One near densely populated areas, but questions remain over which vehicle rules apply to it. “It’s not a fixed-wing aeroplane. It’s not a helicopter. What is it? So right now, there is a little bit of a grey zone,” said Ternström.
The vehicle’s murky legal status was not unexpected. After all, why would regulations already be in place for a machine that never existed before? Ternström and Patan underwent the development of the Jetson One with this in mind, ensuring that it was light enough to fly without the legal requirement of a pilot’s license. It’s the main reason behind their user-friendly automated takeoff and landing system, which Ternström called “the most important innovation” of the entire project. “Put anyone in the seat, and that person will be able to fly in five minutes,” he said.
Jetson Aero is currently taking preorders for 2023, with the first 2022 orders expected this fall.