Aston Martin’s first flying car concept is a vision of future air transport
A well-known brand shouldn’t be constrained in any way. The right design approach allows big names to nimbly hop between sectors and boundaries, taking its loyal customers on a journey to whole new realms. That’s the thinking behind the Volante Vision Concept, a striking new design from Aston Martin and a clutch of aero industry specialists, including Cranfield University, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, and jet engine manufacturers Rolls-Royce. Debuting at this month’s Farnborough Air Show, the Volante is more than a clever play on words (the name, used by Aston on its convertible models for many decades, is the Italian word for ‘flying’).
Instead, this is a vision of future air transport, a luxury three-seater that uses a hybrid-electric power train and can take off and land vertically from anywhere. For now, this kind of craft is strictly hypothetical, although the likes of Uber are reportedly well advanced on plans for a passenger drone infrastructure. Aston Martin believes, not unreasonably, that there’ll be big demand for a premium version of this kind of service. As a result, the company has deployed its considerable design acumen into making the Volante Vision Concept quite unlike anything else you’ve ever seen.
The aircraft’s sleek torpedo-like fuselage contains three seats in a 1-2 configuration, with a large horizontally mounted turbo-prop to the aft, faired into the rear wing design. At the front, a Y-shaped wing arrangement envelopes two pairs of tilting and rotating propellers, giving the craft the extreme manoeuvrability needed to operate in the urban environment. The forms are simple, flowing and elegant, evoking AM’s upcoming Valkyrie hypercar. Autonomous navigation is paired with exceptional performance, while the all-glass cockpit projects information onto the huge bubble canopy.
Aston Martin’s CEO, Dr Andy Palmer, describes the craft as a ‘luxury mobility concept,’ envisioning it as the transportation of choice for hops from business districts to urban airports, country retreats or other urban centres. A whole field of legislative hurdles need to be cleared before such craft can take to the skies. By assembling a strong team of British innovators to explore the available options, Aston Martin’s bold piece of blue-sky thinking could help it get ahead in this next generation air race. §