Israeli startup unveils design for flying electric car

Called Asaka, Japanese for flying bird, NFT’s vehicle will be equipped with 14 propellers and collapsable wings extracted before takeoff.

By Udi Etsion, Calcalist

Guy Kaplinsky, chairman of Israel-based startup NFT Inc., believes autonomous flying cars will solve city road congestion.

For now, many wealthy business people use helicopters to skip traffic in large cities such as San Francisco, but this solution is costly and complicated.

Kaplinsky’s company is working to develop a flying electric, autonomous car that could ease road congestion at a fraction of the cost of private helicopter flights.

The car, he said, would allow people to live away from city centers without having to spend hours on the road.

Called Asaka, Japanese for flying bird, NFT’s vehicle will be equipped with 14 propellers and collapsable wings extracted before take off. The car will be two-meters wide and 12-meters wide with its wings fully extracted.

The vehicle will require a takeoff lane of just 20-30 meters and will be able to carry three people for a distance of 550 kilometers at a speed of between 160 km-per-hour and 240 km-per-hour. Although electric, the vehicle will require a petrol engine to charge its batteries.

The car’s initial price tag will be between $200,000 and $300,000, but the company expects it to go down as commercial production commences. “Our main emphasis, alongside safety, is reducing costs by using off-the-shelf components,” Kaplinsky said.

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Kaplinsky co-founded NFT about four years ago together with his wife Maki, who is the company’s CEO. This is not the couple’s first venture. In 2011, the Kaplinskys founded Tokyo-based code-free app development company IQP Corp., acquired in 2017 by General Electric.

NFT has 20 employees, most of them in the Israeli coastal town Netanya and the rest at the company’s Mountain View, California, headquarters.

NFT will present its design at the Ecomotion 2019 smart mobility show in Tel Aviv on Tuesday and intends to begin test flights by next year.