Often perceived and depicted within fantasy and science fiction, flying cars have always been identified as imaginary vehicles. Sathya and LuftCar, however, are challenging this stereotype and have strong backing from around the industry to ensure this will be widely available across the globe.
“This car is going to be a hydrogen-powered autonomous air and road mobility vehicle. Every one of those words would matter to me,” enthused Sathya.
“It’s an aerial vehicle, it’s hydrogen-powered, it’s both an air and road combined vehicle. In that sense, it’s a flying car. But the purpose of LuftCar is to really democratise travel and to take this big chunk of market that’s not being utilised, that’s what I call regional transportation, which would be from 300 to 500 miles.
“For that kind of a distance, people do not prefer air travel because it’s expensive to fly for short distances, particularly as an individual or as a family. It’s also cheaper to travel by car whilst it also saves you time by travelling in a car because you don’t want to wait in the airports for that distance.”
Clearly the flying car has significant potential within the current market. With populations rising steeply across the world, and in turn congestion rising within cities and on the roads, flying cars present an opportunity to revolutionise the mobility market.
Transformative technology for the air
To achieve this, LuftCar has developed both a battery-powered car and a flying vehicle powered by hydrogen. Both complement each other within the vehicle and provide one of the most unique mobility solutions to come out since the Ford Model T – a car which Sathya believes the flying car can match in terms of transformation of the market.
Sathya told H2 View, “The biggest analogy that I could think of is Model T and what the car did for America. Before the Model T came, cars were fairly expensive, not everybody was able to afford it – it didn’t really affect people’s lives.
“But then Model T became cheaper, and people were able to afford them. Because they are able to afford it, people started living further out from the bigger cities and small cities started developing around those around the places where people moved. Because of that, gas stations moved out and with that, other businesses moved out – that is how America was built.
“What Model T did on the road, we at LuftCar want to do in the air because we are increasing the range beyond those 100 miles – you’re going up to 300 miles. People who work in San Francisco or New York but cannot afford to live in those places because the real estate is really expensive, they can still work there by commuting from longer distances.”
LuftCar’s potential in revolutionising society
In this sense LuftCar could not only be a transformative technology for just the mobility sector but for the entirety of society. Being able to fly 300 miles to work enables a new dynamic for living and ease of transportation making commutes to various locations much easier.
Because of this, new cities could rise in areas currently considered quiet – the possibilities are endless for creating a new society based on these unique LuftCars. It’s not only the citizens that will gain a boost from these vehicles, Sathya also sees the use of these vehicles across multiple sectors such as in law enforcement, military and surveillance.
“This is a true last mile delivery vehicle of not only cargo, but also services. It could be a true mobile hospital,” Sathya explained to H2 View.
“It could be an air ambulance. It could be a disaster relief vehicle. It could also be a homeland security vehicle. This could be great police vehicles, being able to cover longer distances and then you can land and then you can do a road chase. You can have the road chase in the car which is going to be battery powered.
“There are multiple use cases of these vehicles. We also have a big use case in defence. These vehicles can be carried on surface ships, destroyers, coast guard vessels, cutters and these vehicles would be great for ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore connections, landing in contested zones and then having the ability to drive these toward vehicles and rescue troops.”
The potential for this technology is almost limitless and could change the ideas of mobility in such a way that we haven’t seen for almost a century with cars. Not only will this improve the mobility market but will additionally enable greater and quicker healthcare and enable more efficient disaster relief – a unique opportunity presented by hydrogen’s integration into the vehicle.
Unlocking the hydrogen economy
With hydrogen being used in vast quantities for these flying vehicles across the globe it could contribute significantly to enhancing the hydrogen economy and creating demand for the clean energy carrier.
“In terms of energy, the hydrogen comes into play that these vehicles would be creating a big demand for hydrogen as a fuel. At any given time, we’d be filling 80-100kg of hydrogen in the vehicle to achieve the full range,” Sathya continued.
“You could have 20 vehicles serving one LuftPad in a 50-mile zone. Then we’ll be creating a large demand for green hydrogen in the country and also in the rest of the world. So my estimate is around $500bn of hydrogen would be consumed by that idea of LuftCar’s by 2030, at least in the US and the rest of the world would be like twice that capacity.
“Then it could create one trillion dollars of hydrogen demand just because of LuftCar’s alone. Then you add other applications of hydrogen and utility in others, so that’s how you push towards the hydrogen economy.”
So how will this transformative technology be regulated? How will we be able to fly across cities? And how will the hydrogen infrastructure to refuel these vehicles be created? Find out in part two of this exclusive interview with LuftCar.
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