Aston Martin Volante Vision Concept Looks to Rise Above the Competition

British luxury automaker Aston Martin took the wraps off its latest outrageous concept vehicle — the Volante Vision — a flying car with room for three and vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities.

An example of what Aston Martin calls “luxury personal air mobility,” the Volante was developed in partnership with Cranfield University, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and Rolls Royce.

The automaker was light on the details when it came to the Volante concept — the vehicle will sport a hydro-electric drivetrain supplied by Rolls Royce — but the company released more than a dozen renderings of the vehicle’s taut, thin design.

“We are at the beginning of a new generation of urban transportation, vertical mobility is no longer a fantasy,” Aston Martin executive vice president and chief creative officer Marek Reichman noted in a statement. “We have a unique chance to create a luxury concept aircraft that will represent the ultimate fusion of art and technology.”

However luxurious and technologically advanced, an April 2017 study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute of 500 US adults found nearly two-thirds of respondents are “very concerned” about safety in the skies.

Among the issues examined in the report were the likely benefits, major concerns, preferred source of energy, affordability, and overall interest in operating or using such vehicles.

As James Bond’s longtime supplier of gadget-laden vehicles, Aston Martin is no stranger to wild concepts — one of 007’s recent ride was invisible, after all — and the Volante follows on the heels of the Lagonda Vision Concept, which the company showcased at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

Aimed at the ultra high-end market, the concept limousine features silk carpets, hand woven wool upholstery, carbon fiber trim and ceramic tiles that open and close to alter the ventilation and adjust the volume of the sound system.

The fully-electric car, which the company claims has a 400-mile range, features Level 4 autonomous driving, which means the car is capable of driving itself in all normal circumstances and on all recognizable roads.

Offered complete with silk carpets and carbon fiber trim, the Lagonda Vision Concept is planned for production in 2021.

The newest Aston Martin concept dropped the same week as legendary automotive design firm Pininfarina announced the planned production of the PFO supercar, which could boast a top speed of 250mph, cost around $2.5 million and offer a range of more than 300 miles — though it would remain earthbound.

When it comes to autonomous mobility in the air, ride-hailing firm Uber, which is having enough trouble with its self-driving vehicles on the ground, has also demonstrated an interest in the area, believing its flying cars will one day be affordable to average consumers.

Uber is currently seeking an international city to join Los Angeles and Dallas as a launch site. The company would start with about a dozen small “skyports,” each hosting about 20 take-offs and landings per hour.

Among the other players in the nascent flying car market include the Slovakia-based AeroMobil, which recently unveiled its plans for an electric VTOL vehicle.

The four-seat electric 5.0 VTOL model will perform vertical take-offs and landings using a set of rotors located on the ends of each of its wings, which will fold back when it’s on the ground.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter @dropdeaded209.

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