It takes off like a helicopter but flies like a jet, and you could soon be commuting to work in it.
That's the ambitious vision of start-up company AMSL Aero, which visited Canberra on Tuesday to demonstrate a 1:5 scale prototype of its electric, pilotless Verti-plane.
AMSL Aero co-founder Andrew Moore said the two-seater plane would take off and land vertically on the tops of buildings, travelling horizontally in between at 300 kilometres per hour - about twice as fast as a helicopter.
He hoped to have the first units operational within five years, and said the idea was to provide a service similar to a flying taxi.
"We think they'll be around $300,000 per unit, but we're not intending to sell them to the average person," Mr Moore said.
"What we're looking to do is provide a service. Effectively, you would use it like a rideshare or taxi."
While a five-minute trip in a regular taxi would only take you down the road, Mr Moore said a five-minute Verti-plane flight could replace the hour-long commute from Yass to Canberra.
People would also be able to travel between the capital and the ski fields, or coastal destinations like Batemans Bay, in less than half an hour.
"We aim to change the way people move, and the way people live," he said.
"We also need to do something about carbon emissions with transport and right now, without other mechanisms, people aren’t moving as fast as they need to away from internal combustion engines.
"[The Verti-plane] is all electric and emissions-free."
Mr Moore said the vertical take-off and landing market was on track to overtake the global helicopter market, now worth AU$35 billion, by 2032, and that his company's technology was leading the way.
Telstra is backing AMSL Aero's bid to design and manufacture the Verti-plane in Australia, providing $75,000 in funding through its muru-D start-up accelerator program.
Mr Moore said the next step was to build a full-size prototype inside 12 months, which he estimated would cost $2.5 million. To get the first planes on the market, he believed he would need up to $30 million.
AMSL Aero is already in discussions with groups of investors, as well as the Australian Army, about funding.
Lieutenant Colonel Keirin Joyce said unmanned aircraft were game-changers in combat scenarios, and the Australian Army could use Verti-planes in combat resupply missions.
"We do those at the moment with a $30 million helicopter, with six people on board," he said.
"Why would we want to put such a valuable asset, with six valuable humans, in harm’s way if we could do it with an unmanned, robotic platform that doesn’t put any more soldiers at risk?
"That’s why we’re really interested in capabilities like this."
Lieutenant Colonel Joyce said the Army could work with AMSL Aero to provide funding through the Defence Innovation Hub, so that the Verti-plane was built in a way that made it useful to the Army.
If the company's proposal was accepted, it could receive millions of dollars in Defence funding, he said.
Telstra chief technology officer Hakan Eriksson said with the introduction of 5G technology, the telco would be able to support the command and control of autonomous vehicles like the Verti-plane, ensuring they could operate safely.
"A drone is just like a flying mobile phone, and a mobile phone has an identity and connectivity," he said.
"Who is better at running mobile phones flying in the air than an operator like Telstra?
"If you look at the sweet spot combining driverless cars, drones, the Internet of Things and 5G, this is a very natural thing to bring into the mix."