Toyota Patents a Helicopter Car With Wheels That Double as Rotors

Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North Amerca (TEMA) has filed a patent application for an innovative flying helicopter car with wheels that could double as rotary wings.

The patent is for a “dual mode vehicle, wheels for the vehicle and a method of transitioning the vehicle from a land mode to a flight mode.” It goes on to describe a vehicle with wheels attached to spaced arms that are fixed to a central pivot. When the vehicle switches from the land mode to the flight mode, the arms extend upward and the wheels begin to spin. Rotors then extend from within the wheels, spinning like typical helicopter rotors and producing enough to lift to allow the vehicle to fly.

Toyota’s patent says each of the wheels/rotors would be powered by an electric motor fed by a power system. The power system could be a battery pack, gas turbine generator, a hydrogen fuel cell or “any other energy conversion device capable of generating sufficient electric power to drive the wheels of the dual mode vehicle.” The patent also says the vehicle could be steered in land mode by “changing the speed of the wheels on one side of the dual mode vehicle,” similar to how a vehicle with tracks turns, like a tank for example.

Toyota’s patent for a flying car reminds us of flying car startup Terrafugia’s concept flying car. Terrafugia, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese auto giant Geely, first showed its flying car concept back in 2015, which featured deployable helicopter-style rotors. Unlike Toyota’s design, though, Terrafugia’s had dedicated wheels and rotors for flying instead of integrating the two into the same assembly. Uber is also planning to roll out so-called “flying taxis” one day which use similar drone-style flying technology, although they won’t be capable of driving on public streets.

SEE ALSO: Porsche Also Wants to Make Flying Cars

It’s highly unlikely TEMA’s flying car patent will ever materialize into a tangible item. Who knows, though? This is exactly the kind of “mobility solution” an automaker could wow crowds with at CES in concept form.

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