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IPFS News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

ASKA debuts fully functional A5 flying car prototype at CES

•, By Scott Tharler

I was originally supposed to get to drive the hybrid vehicle up and down the famed Las Vegas Strip. Unfortunately, it was damaged in its transit from northern California, leaving it un-drivable for the show.

However, I did still get treated to an up-close and personal view. I sat inside the cockpit, and I saw the vehicle transform. And with verbal guidance from David, a pilot consulting with ASKA, I flew a virtual version of this futuristic "car" right under the Golden Gate Bridge before proudly landing back at San Francisco airport, courtesy of a flight simulator the company had on hand.

Lest you get swept up in the transformational and aeronautical aspects of this vehicle, you might overlook the A5's innovative wheels. ASKA developed special electric motors for inside each one, the upshot being that the those wheels can take the A5 from zero to about 65 mph (105 km/h) in less than five seconds – equating to needing a mere 250 feet (76 m) of runway – before the propellers take over.

"That's very cost-effective," ASKA co-founder and CEO Guy Kaplinsky explained to me. "Because normally if you use the propeller on the runway, it takes a long time to get up to speed."

In short, this four-seater is capable of either a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) or short takeoff and landing (STOL). The beauty is that based on intelligently factoring in the weight of the passengers and any cargo – along with how much runway you happen to have – the aircraft will determine what's needed, and offer you options for how quickly and expensively you want to get into the air. Picture accelerating onto a highway in a normal terrestrial car … sometimes you have the time and space to gradually merge, and other times – even at the cost of your overall fuel efficiency – you've just gotta punch it.