Mar 1, 2024 - News

Florida entrepreneurs aim high for flying vehicles

Illustration of a car with wings flying through the sky.

Illustration: Victoria Ellis/Axios

Flying cars seem like sci-fi, even in 2024. But Florida tech entrepreneurs say it won't be long before they hit the skies in Tampa Bay.

Why it matters: As companies across the eVTOL (electric takeoff and landing) industry prepare to launch air taxis and personal vehicles across the U.S. in the next couple years, Florida companies are competing to stand out and get people flying.

Driving the news: At a panel on flying vehicles at Synapse Summit in Tampa on Wednesday, the consensus was not if, but how soon flying vehicles would become the norm.

Zoom in: Santh Sathya, CEO of LuftCar near Orlando, said he plans to launch hubs in Tampa and Miami. His autonomous vehicles would use a mix of hydrogen and electric power.

  • Doron Merdinger, founder and CEO of Doroni in Coral Springs, said he plans to take orders for his commercial-use eVTOL in 2024.
  • Sean Borman runs Aeroauto, an eVTOL showroom and dealer in Palm Beach County. He said he's seen hundreds of the vehicles being made around the world from Australia to Europe and Japan.

What they're saying: "This is going to change how things are moved," panel moderator Chuck Martin told the crowd. The Tampa resident published a book last month on the emerging tech.

  • "There's a race now for us to deliver [the technology] as fast as possible," Merdinger said.

Reality check: Air taxis are more realistic than the concept of personal flying vehicles, as similar projects usually fizzle out or have unreliable tech, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick reports.

Zoom out: Electric air taxi hubs in New York and LA are projected to get off the ground within the next couple of years. The Air Force contracted another maker to move cargo and people at a base in California.

What we're watching: A bill moving through the state legislature would pave the way for Florida vertiports to support eVTOLs.


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