Dongfeng Motor (东风汽车), one of the largest state-owned auto makers in China, displayed its flying car at the 8th Tech Innovation Week in central China’s Hubei Province on September 28, showcasing the advances the company has made in the fledgling eVTOL segment.
At the event, the manned eVTOL model, named Sharing Airland, made its debut in Shiyan, a city in Hubei, where the carmaker is headquartered.
The latest version of the aerial vehicle is an upgrade to the 2021 edition, since it can be used to carry passengers instead of just cargo.
With a two-seat layout, the futuristic Sharing Airland has a lift of 100-1,000 m and can cruise autonomously.
The flying car will arrive at the designated location after the user places an order on mobile app. When users step into the cabin, a built-in system confirms his or her ID via facial recognition.
When the cabin’s top is connected to the rotary blades overhead, its autonomous driving chassis will automatically detach from the cabin, enabling the user to enjoy an aerial ride.
A car that can ‘fly’
Designed as an air taxi platform, Sharing Airland is a blend of a multi-copter and an autonomous vehicle. Unlike conventional eVTOL models, Dongfeng’s variant bears more resemblance to a car than to an aircraft.
“This is actually a car that can ‘fly,’ the user can choose the flying mode or switch to the ground mode,” a Dongfeng employee was quoted as saying at the event on September 28. “It seeks to provide short- to medium-haul mobility solutions in future smart transportation.”
According to Dongfeng, Sharing Airland is designed with a modular concept, whereby multiple modules come together to provide more intelligent and convenient mobility solutions.
It might also play a crucial role in easing congestion in big cities and solving intercity transportation problems, the carmaker added.
Dong Shiqi, chief designer behind Sharing Airland, said in 2021 that the innovation will complement existing forms of road transportation to offer customers seamless services.
Dongfeng is among a handful of Chinese carmakers who have branched out into the eVTOL industry, the others being Geely Holding Group (吉利汽车) and Xpeng (小鹏).