PAL-V Europe NV and Spark design & innovation  - PAL-V
Nominated by Erik en Ronald Rietveld:
PAL-V Europe NV and Spark design & innovation
for PAL-V

Everyone fantasises about flying away, whether it’s to escape a traffic jam or flee to a desert island. We nominate PAL-V and Spark Design & Innovation for making this dream a reality more than a century after the invention of the automobile. Their flying car is a groundbreaking marriage of technology, design and experiment.

Spark and PAL-V jointly developed the unique Personal Air and Land Vehicle (PAL-V). They have been working on the project since 1999 and presented the first sound working prototype a year ago. An initial limited edition production run is now being brought to market.

The PAL-V introduces a new door-to-door transport concept by combining a road vehicle with a gyrocopter. The driver can decide at any moment whether to travel by air or land, depending on weather conditions. The use of existing Carver three-wheeler technology developed by Spark constitutes a historic breakthrough. The system provides stability on the road and balance on curves, so that the vehicle can travel on public roads under international law. A driver needs only a regular automobile licence and a gyrocopter licence. The latter can be obtained after 40 hours of training, making the PAL-V one of the simplest ways to fly. And a safe one.

The useful applications of the PAL-V are unprecedented. It makes places that were previously impossible to reach newly accessible. Doctors could use it to travel quickly to remote areas that lack (decent) roads: islands, rain forests, disaster zones. Another great advantage is that busy traffic can be avoided, by taking off from the nearest airstrip or airport and flying over the traffic jam. If the PAL-V succeeds, the spatial planning implications for nations will be immense.

The endless search for the correct form for the PAL-V, within the constraints of the laws of aerodynamics, has resulted in a unique flying car. The object is the result of a fusion of artisan craftsmanship (e.g., handmade moulds), science and technology. Its designers say, with justifiable pride, “It’s not a car, it’s not a gyrocopter – it’s a PAL-V.” This hybridity is expressed in the vehicle’s form. With its back end raised off the ground, it looks ready to take off. The ultra-slim lines emphasise its aerodynamics and lightness. Large windows create a sense of freedom – the essence of the PAL-V.

The PAL-V project demonstrates how designers can chase dreams by forging alliances with scientific and technological researchers. The best way of experiencing the PAL-V’s power is to see one in real life and climb inside. Suddenly the dream of being able to fly away is real. PAL-V is making history with its flying car.

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