Without recent advances in flexible wing technology, the idea would barely have got off the ground. New aerodynamic profiles and materials make it possible to lift a vehicle weighing 1,500lb and passengers without dangerous instability.
“This thing will launch itself without any pilot input,” says Cardozo. “You just open it up and it goes. The more power you put on, the faster you go until you come off the ground [at 35mph]. The wing will basically lock above you [once airborne] and stay there, without weaving, at speeds of up to 80mph.”
Paragliders really aren’t new, and you can buy lightweight trikes and fourwheelers to put you motor-and-airfoil kit on for less than $10K. But packaging the whole thing up as a roadworthy car seems like a pretty neat concept. These things have awfully short takeoff requirements, so I wonder how they’d be for ferrying supplies and such in natural disasters. And at less than $50K a pop they’re rather more disposable than, say, a real helicopter.