When one hears talk of flying cars, one generally pictures them as looking like automobiles with wings, planes with small cabins and a trunk, large quadcopter drones, or some combination of all of these. A company in Tacoma, Washington, has unveiled a design for a one-person aerial vehicle that can only be described as an electric flying saucer or disc -- and its full-scale prototype is ready for free flight at 160 miles per hour. Did he say one-person electric flying saucer? Will it be ready by Christmas?
“The ZERO is a personal flying machine that transitions from hover mode to forward flight mode and cruises comfortably at 160mph. ZERO is a new class of aircraft that blends the best features of multi-copter with streamlined wing-body for improved range and efficiency.”
The Zeva Zero can best be described as a combination electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (EVTOL) vehicle and flying saucer. (See videos here.) Imaging a flying saucer balanced vertically on its edge and you have the Zero’s takeoff position. How does it stay balanced? Zeva envisions docking stations attached to the side of a building – you walk through a door (or crawl through a window) into the Zero, strap in and fire it up (assuming it’s fully charged). The Zero detaches and ascends vertically with the pilot standing up. Once it is clear of the building, it rotates to the horizontal position with the pilot lying on their stomach and peering forward, up and down out of the window. (Simulation and tethered test video here.)
Is that not quite the way you envisioned piloting your personal flying saucer?
Zeva actually sees these one-person EVTOLs as primarily for the military, law enforcement, first responders and search-and-rescue project requiring quick entry and takeoff. Personal air travel, pizza deliveries (it’s the perfect shape!) and other applications will undoubtedly come later, especially when the ranged can exceed the current 50-mile limit. In its review of the Zeva Zero, New Atlas measures the carbon-fiber disc body at 8 ft. (2.4 m) in diameter and weighing 700 pounds (317 kg) – 900 with a maximum weight 200-pouind passenger. There are two propulsion housings on the front and two on the back with two electric props on each mounted coaxially. This simple design means the body is also the wing, and the vertical entry and takeoff eliminated the need for large airports or hangars – just stick them to the outside walls of buildings like flying saucer refrigerator magnets.
"But the result, I think, is an interesting product for things like first responder, search and rescue, hot extraction, resupply ... We've got civil applications and DOD applications, and people are getting pretty excited about it. So yeah, we're zigging where others are zagging, but my consideration is that where these things are needed, and where they can be used straight away, is not in the urban environment.”
CEO Stephen Tibbits saved the best part of his unique Zeva Zero for last – the price. With so few parts – moving or otherwise – Tibbits envisions the Zero being stamped out quickly in factories and selling for $250,000 each.
It should be ready by the time you save your pennies and convince your landlord to attach a Zero to the side of your apartment building.