Czech 'GyroDrive' soars past rivals with copter-car hybrid

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-08 07:31

Czech 'GyroDrive' soars past rivals with copter-car hybrid

Pavel Brezina (left) flies in his autogyro at the airport near Pribram in the Czech Republic. As global automakers vie to bring the first flying car to market, Brezina is trying a different tack by creating a car that can fly and also be driven legally on the roads.Michal Cizek / Agence Francepresse

BOCHOR, Czech Republic - As global automakers compete to bring the first flying car to market, Czech pilot Pavel Brezina is trying a different tack: instead of creating a car that flies, he has made a "GyroDrive" - a mini helicopter you can drive.

The engineer and owner of Nirvana Systems, a company producing motors for small flying machines, insists his vehicle is the first in the world authorized to operate both on roads and in the air.

"This is the only road-certified flying vehicle I know about," Brezina said in a hangar at the Prerov-Bochor airport in the eastern Czech Republic.

"Everyone is trying to make a high-speed car that can fly, but this is a different thing," said the tall, bespectacled 51-year-old, who has 30 years' experience as a pilot under his belt.

His GyroDrive vehicle is based on a gyroplane - a mini-helicopter - that uses a copter-style rotor to move up and down, and an aeroplane-type "pusher propeller" to go forward.

Brezina's company buys gyroplane kits from a German firm, and then assembles and equips them with a system allowing the pilot-driver to switch between a gasoline engine propelling the rotors and an electric engine that powers the wheels.

The two-seat GyroDrive has a maximum driving speed of just 40 km/h and can take its crew of two on short drives to a gas station or a hotel.

It needs less than 100 meters to take off and reaches a top speed of 180 km/h in the air. Its flying range is 600 kilometers.

After landing, the pilot only has to fix the main rotor blades along the axis of the GyroDrive and pull out a built-in license plate to transform it into a road vehicle.

Prices start at 1.5 million koruna ($63,500), but they can reach 4 million koruna, depending on specifications.

While Brezina is already planning to take his wife - also a pilot - and two children to London aboard GyroDrives, inventors worldwide are frantically working on prototypes of cars that fly.

In mid-May, Japan's Toyota unveiled plans to launch a three-wheel flying car dubbed SkyDrive using retractable wings and drone technology.

Silicon Valley flying car startup, Kitty Hawk, reportedly backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, released a video in April of its airborne prototype and announced plans for deliveries of a "personal flying machine" this year.

Looking into the future, Brezina said he doubts GyroDrive will take over roads and airways, partly because of the 1.2-1.5 million euros ($1.35-1.7 million) price tag.

Rather, it will serve as "some kind of a flying Uber service," Vaculik said.

"Our concept is that not many people would own this flying car but many will be able to use it," he added.

Agence France-presse

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