It is the 21st century and we still are without the flying cars foretold by “The Jetsons.” But Volkswagen may be working on the next best thing: a car that hovers and travels on an invisible magnetic cushion.
The People’s Car Project
China’s recent Beijing auto show unveiled some of the concepts created for the People’s Car Project, a program launched by Volkswagen in the world’s largest nation last year.
Uses Magnetic Levitation
The spherical, two-seater VW hover car is one of the more interesting vehicles unveiled at the 2012 show. It is an all-electric, zero-emission, disk-like craft with a tail in the back that travels in a vertical orientation via “MagLev,” or magnetic levitation.
The Hover Car is controlled by a joystick that resembles the vehicle in miniature. Its automated safety features constantly monitor the vehicle’s surroundings for potential dangers and will take over control when a crash is eminent.
To build long-term presence
The program was created to recruit Chinese engineers for its Asian operations. The project was intended to run for only a year, but it has proven so successful that it has been kept open for an indefinite period. The program is Volkswagen’s move to build a long-term presence in the Chinese automotive community.
The Music Car
Another concept mentioned in the press material is the Music Car. A disco on wheels, the Music Car is covered with diodes that light up to the beat of whatever music the driver is playing inside the cabin.
The Smart Key
A more practical and useful concept is the Smart Key. The electronic fob has a small touch screen embedded on it that can access and display information about the vehicle, such as fuel levels and whether or not the door is locked.
The smart key is probably the most functional of these ideas, and it may be integrated into future VWs. However, if it’s up to me, I’ll take the hover car.
Speaking of flying cars, the Terrafugia company now offers the Transition, a road-legal vehicle with fold-up wings that, when extended, turn it into a small aircraft. But it does not have the convenience and practicality of the Hover car, and is also much more complicated to pilot.
Faked but intriguing
The video below shows what the vehicle of tomorrow can do. However, because the car is designed to interact with a special magnetized road surface infrastructure that does not as yet exist in the streets of Beijing, we suspect this was accomplished using special effects. Plus, it kind of looks like it.