This is great news for Prius owners who don’t feel special anymore and want another opportunity to out-snob their neighbors and friends like they did when they were the first to own a hybrid. The U.S. Patent Office has published Toyota’s patent application for a flying car with a very unique design – stackable wings that rise from the roof to make it look like a hybrid double-biplane with cup holders. Will it work? Will it sell?
US Patent 9216814 is actually for the part that turns it into a plane … Toyota calls it the “stackable wing for an aerocar.” The patent document contains multiple drawings of the stackable wings in what Toyota calls a “closely stowable” storage formation on top of a car and fully extended on some sort of pole in flying mode. There’s also a fin on the trunk (or boot) that will apparently suffice for a tail.
Since the views are all from the side and not the front or back, it’s hard to tell how wide the wings are, but it’s safe to assume they’re not much wider than the car itself to maintain its looks, aerodynamics and ability to fit in a normal garage when on the ground. That may explain the “stack” formation. Without wide wings, a plane must get its lift by using multiple wings like a biplane or triplane. The wings are tiltable for takeoff, climbing, cruising and landing.
Let’s see … what else is missing from these drawings? How about a propeller or some sort of flight propulsion system? It appears Toyota may be planning to simply prop the wings on top of a car that already has a prop. That would eliminate the Prius from being part of the design, unless some other company is rigging one up with a stylish-yet-functional propeller system, flight controls, flight attendants, peanuts and other things needed for actual flying.
Will a car with Toyota’s “stackable wing for an aerocar” actually fly? The science (at least for the wings) says it should. Will it sell? If they call it the Flius (Fly-us), Prius owners just might trade up.
True flying car aficionados will more than likely wait for the TF-X flying car from Terrafugia, which just received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for unmanned hover tests of a one-tenth scale model of the TF-X.
Sorry Toyota. No matter who finishes their flying car first, the Terrafugia TF-X is WAY cooler.