Flying cars might still be a long way from becoming a commercial reality, but that doesn't stop designers letting their imaginations run wild when it comes to envisioning the airborne automobiles of the future... and they sure make for some gorgeous conceptual art. A case in point is the YEE, designed by South China University of Technology (SCUT) industrial design students Pan Jiazhi, Zhu Wenxi and Lai Zexin. Last month, their creation won the Gold Award for Best Creative Future at the First International Concept Car Design Contest in Beijing. One look at it, and it’s easy to see why.

When the YEE is in driving mode, its wings would fold downwards, and small wheels along their outside edges would allow them to act as outriggers. The car could even carve into turns, by leaning towards one outrigger and away from the other. Speaking of turning, though... how would the thing be steered?

When it went into flight mode, the YEE’s two back wheels would swing forward and their rather stylin’ spokes would reveal themselves to be the propeller blades that they actually were. Pretty clever. Another question comes to mind, however: when the car was taking off and its outriggers folded upwards to become wings, wouldn’t it just fall down on the road? And likewise, how would it maintain take-off speed or hold its back end up when its wheels folded forward? Just asking.

The SCUT team even went so far as to envision the socio-economic climate that would produce the need for such a vehicle. In future China, they predict, a “QUICK” group will emerge. The QUICKs will mostly be white-collar professionals, with few if any children. Because they would start their careers and get their own places immediately upon graduating college, they would at first have limited funds. This, in turn, would mean they'd have to live out in the suburbs. If you’re out in the ‘burbs and want a quick and easy way of getting downtown, what do you need? Of course, a flying car!

The cars would take off from designated flying stations, which would also feature solar panels for charging the vehicles. Maybe some day.

Images: International Council of Societies of Industrial Design

Via Bornrich