Ever thought of jumping the queue when stuck in traffic? Industrial designer Martin Rico fulfills this fantasy with an expandable flying car to provide temporary and long-term solutions.
From his own experience, Rico complains that “parking in Buenos Aires is a mess; it takes more time to park the car than to reach the destination”.
City infrastructure may be a factor, but what makes it worse is that “car design isn’t helping”, Rico says. “It’s because people drive huge cars … Cars take up the same amount of space when they are [carrying] 1 or 5 people. They use a similar amount of gas too … Why do we need all this valuable space when it is not used?”
While a greener lifestyle could be a permanent cure by replacing cars with bicycles or motorbikes for shorter trips, Rico points out that these types of unipersonal vehicles do not offer the comfort and the amenities that a car does, and, most importantly, the option of carrying passengers.
In view of cities’ pressing needs, Rico has offered an expandable function that saves space without sacrificing convenience.
According to Rico, the futuristic vehicle EO “is an electric expandable carcopter” designed for crowded cities. It is meant to help solve the problems that have been disrupting our daily lives ever since cars started to rule the roads. While there is obviously no legislature or infrastructure in place for this invention, it’s fun to dream.
The outline of EO resembles a two-seat electric car with a streamlined shape and flowing lines, as seen in headlights that extend and merge into the air intakes. On closer inspection, one will find a gap in the middle of the body where the rear part of the car can stretch out. With the extra space, the two back seats can be unfolded to accommodate more passengers or extra storage. The driver can increase the size of the car or shrink it whenever needed, whether on the road or in a packed parking lot.
The EO car aims to save space on the road but it takes time to resolve traffic congestion so Rico adds a special compartment, hidden in the roof of the car. Inside are four propellers which can be extended to allow the car to take off for a limited time in the middle of the road. The idea is that when you’re stuck in traffic, you can just take off [using] the propellers like a helicopter,” Rico says.
With the limitation posed by the short life and heavy batteries, a lightweight body is of paramount importance if we want to the car to fly. According to Rico, the car has to be extremely light – less than 800 kg. The whole body is composed of carbon fibre and equipped with the lightest Li-ion polymer batteries.
The four motors have a total maximum output of 600KW for a maximum payload of 400kg while there is also a motor at the front and the back that offer a total of 250KW. The mechanism that deploys the propellers is made of carbotanium to make the structure strong yet light.
To match the design theme, the steering wheel resembles an airplane yoke. Other hi-tech highlights include the haptic touchscreen which detects the fingerprint to start the engine. The first time driving the car, the owner is required to scan his or her driving licence to unlock the pedals and the steering wheel. To fly it, Rico advises that the driver get a pilot licence in order not to violate the law. But with the installed autonomous driving and flight system, the design aims to provide a new means of transport in the near future.
Breakdown of Costs
DESIGN AND CONSULTATION: HK$19.5 MILLION
ENGINEERING: HK$19.5 MILLION
MACHINERY AND MATERIALS: HK$27.3 MILLION
CONSTRUCTION COSTS: HK$78 MILLION
TOTAL: HK$144.3 MILLION
Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentinian designer Martin Rico has a promising future ahead of him. He graduated from the University of Buenos Aires majoring in industrial design and enjoyed his time as a freelancer. Having worked as an industrial design consultant since 2015, the young talent has been producing creative designs for non-profit futuristic vehicle concepts sharing website Imaginactive founded by Charles Bombardier. Projects and design concepts range from radical aircraft, luxury yachts to autonomous surfboard delivery vehicles and affordable SLS printers. With these innovative creations, he aims to find the perfect solutions to today’s most pressing problems.
Illustrations: Martin Rico