‘Flying car’ prototype set for take-off in October, says entrepreneur development minister

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By TMR

THE first air mobility prototype or “flying car” in Malaysia is expected to take flight as early as October this year, Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof revealed.

Mohd Redzuan said the technology is being developed by multiple companies with financial and intellectual capacities in the air mobility industry, but declined to disclose details on the firms.

“I don’t want to name the companies until they themselves make the announcement, because they have just recently raised private funds from other countries, and (one of the) companies is bound for listing in a foreign stock exchange.

“I’ve seen the prototype which they have built and I’m monitoring (its) progress. I think the air frame is almost completed, so it is just about building the body kit and so on. They should be able to meet the timeline they have set, but we are not pushing them because it is not our project,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) had previously reported that Aerodyne Geospatial Sdn Bhd, the maker of the “flying vehicle” Vector, which grabbed headlines at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2019 in March, is gearing up for the unit’s first public test flight in December.

In an interview with TMR, Aerodyne founder and group CEO Kamarul Muhamed said Vector, which will be the world’s first urban air mobility development with interchangeable modules, is expected to be airborne for 15 to 20 minutes during the maiden flight.

Kamarul said Vector is designed to travel at least 60km, just enough to cover an area the size of the Klang Valley for cargo delivery and point-to-point transportation. He added that the prototype is currently being built at a secret location in the country, at a cost of RM500,000.

Elaborating on the government’s role, Mohd Redzuan said the federal administration via the Transport Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia is currently working on a regulatory framework to legalise the air mobility industry in Malaysia.

He said the regulatory guideline will be based on air mobility laws that have been established in countries like France, the US and the United Arab Emirates. The latter is expected to launch operations of the world’s first autonomous aerial vehicle capable of carrying a human this month.

In the previous Dewan Rakyat sitting, Mohd Redzuan cited Australia as an example, where permissions to fly a drone can be made online with a minimal fee of A$10 (RM28.90) inclusive of insurance.

“In Putrajaya, it takes at least 20 days to get the approval. Other countries can do it instantly online. If we provide that space for the air mobility industry to develop, then we can talk about other aspects like satellite infrastructure and laws,” he said.

He was responding to a question from Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (Barisan Nasional-Ayer Hitam) who asked if the government would provide satellite technology support for entrepreneurs involved in developing drone technologies.