Ask any aerodynamicist about how to make aircraft go as fast as possible and they will always say that streamlining is the key. That is the recurring theme with the sleek concept air vehicles that we have featured before. But Renault thinks that the skies have room for retro design, and it’s quite evident in its own flying-vehicle project.
It’s called the Air4, and fans of the French brand will immediately associate the name and the shape to the Renault 4 economy car. The 4 was quite popular all over Europe and overseas French territories for its affordable sticker price, low running costs, and relative durability. The model is celebrating its 60th birthday this year, and Renault has collaborated with design house TheArsenale to get the humble land vehicle to reach the skies, literally.
The Air4 gears itself for a life above terra firma by getting its wheels replaced with propellers mounted on outriggers. The propulsion system is electric, and the four motors are powered by a 90,000mAh lithium-polymer battery pack. It’s top speed is 93.6km/h, and the service ceiling is 700m. Despite having landing skids like a helicopter, Renault says that it needs a little momentum during takeoff and landing just like a fixed-wing aircraft.
Performance is quite marginal as each of the Air4’s propellers produces just 95kg of thrust. To help keep it in the air for as long as possible, the body is made out of carbon fiber. The cabin doesn’t have plenty of creature comforts, and it seems like there is room for just the pilot. To keep the Air4 rigid, there are no traditional doors. The entire body opens by pivoting around a front hinge.
Renault says that it makes use of complex software with artificial intelligence to figure out the mathematical calculations needed to make the Air4 a reality. This is supposed to significantly shorten the prototyping process and get the vehicle in the air as soon as possible.