The big picture: Japanese drone startup Aeronext has become the latest to tackle the “flying car” concept at CES with its autonomous, single-seater passenger drone called the Flying Gondola. It's more a glimpse into the future than a consumer-ready product, but could this be what personal transportation looks like in a decade?
The craft uses what Aeronext calls Tiltbody technology to keep the passenger cockpit level at all times, similar to how a cabin on a Ferris wheel always stays level with the ground. Think of it like a fancy gimbal on a drone, but for passengers. A series of eight rotors mounted across two wings will allow for VTOL (vertical take-off and landing).
Aeronext is showcasing a 1/3 size model of its single-seater aircraft at CES although future iterations will be able to transport multiple passengers. Chief among the company’s concerns with its Flying Gondola are safety and comfort, we’re told.
Aeronext didn’t comment on how much noise the eight rotors might put out. This probably wouldn’t be too much of a concern to passengers as the pod would presumably block much of the noise but it’s the bystanders that have to worry.
Of course, none of this will be a concern anytime soon. Aeronext’s CMO told ExtremeTech that it could be another decade before Flying Gondolas are spotted in the wild. In the meantime, the company is eyeballing controlled environments like theme parks to test and refine its technology.