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How the Personal Air and Land Vehicle (PAL-V) Works

The PAL-V One on the Ground
The PAL-V One has excellent drivability when it's on the ground.
The PAL-V One has excellent drivability when it's on the ground.

Anyone who's been on a 737 as it taxies to the gate knows that planes aren't the most agile things when they're on the ground. That's because planes are built for doing their best work in the air. Driving along on the ground is an afterthought. A flying car like the PAL-V One, however, needs to be just as good on the ground as it is in the sky.

Compared to a 737, or any other conventional plane, the PAL-V has excellent drivability when it's on the ground. It drives like a sports car, thanks in-part to its unique cabin layout. Most cars have a two-plus-three layout: two seats in the front, three seats in the back (SUVs and minivans, as well as some subcompact cars, have different seating arrangements). The two-plus-three arrangement is comfortable and stable on the road, but it's not all that sporty, and it also adds a lot of weight to have all of those seats and people on board. The PAL-V has a one-plus-one cabin layout. The passenger sits behind the driver, similar to two riders on a motorcycle. And even though the PAL-V uses a wheel to steer like a car, it leans like a motorcycle in tight turns.

When it's on the ground, the PAL-V's engine makes 230 horsepower, and goes from zero to 60 miles per hour (97 kilometers per hour) in less than eight seconds. It has a top speed of 112 miles per hour (180 kilometers per hour), and it gets 28 miles to the gallon (12 kilometers per liter). On a full tank, you can drive it 750 miles (1,207 kilometers). Weighing in at just under 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) when empty, the PAL-V One makes use of carbon fiber, steel and aluminum components [source: PAL-V One; PAL-V Specs]. As revolutionary as the PAL-V is, however, we're beginning to see those performance numbers and lightweight, high-tech materials in conventional cars, too. So why are we talking about the PAL-V? Because of what comes next: its ability to fly.