toyota-flying-car-patent

Toyota’s idea for a flying vehicle goes beyond fixed wings or even ones that retract to the side of its body; in this patent filed back in December 2014, but just published this month by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the vehicle in Toyota’s patent hides its wings within its fuselage when retracted.

For that to work, the flexible wings are housed in the rear portion of the vehicle, covered by movable panels. These panels open and close in a gullwing door type of manner, hinged at the vehicle’s roof. The wings can then fold or unfurl once the movable panel make way for the wings. It also appears in the patent drawings that parts of the fuselage can be altered by telescopic struts, possibly to adapt to airflow characteristics when in flight.

There was no mention of the type of engine the car will use, but the diagrams show a rear-mounted propeller for propulsion. There isn’t a visible second propeller, nor is there a vertical surface such as a rudder for directional control in flight; presumably those duties are handled by flaps or ailerons on the flexible wings.

From Toyota’s patent filing in 2014 until the present, there has been more development in the area of flying cars; Slovakian company Aeromobil has developed three generations of a flying car, while Google co-founder Larry Page has reportedly invested in two separate companies, each running a flying car programme in parallel.

Aeromobil’s concept is built around a retractable wing design with variable angle of attack, which enables take-off within a “few hundred metres,” according to Aeromobil, while the tough suspension is intended to allow operation from less than ideal runways.

Meanwhile, both companies funded by Page work independently and do not speak to each other; the first, named Zee.Aero, has been working on a fixed wing, narrow fuselage design with propellers at the rear of the vehicle, while the second, smaller operation named Kitty Hawk has been working on a design similar to that of a quadcopter.