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TECHNOLOGY

‘We’ll have flying cars by the end of the year’, promises France’s flyboard hero Zapata

Fresh from his triumph of being the first person to cross the English Channel by flyboard, French inventor Franky Zapata has moved on to his next challenge - flying cars.

'We'll have flying cars by the end of the year', promises France's flyboard hero Zapata
French inventor Franky Zapata. Photo: AFP

The inventor, who on Sunday crossed from Sangatte in northern France to St Margaret's Bay in Dover on England's south coast in just 20 minutes, has no intention of resting on his laurels.

He says his next challenge is a flying car, which he and his team are already working on and which he believes will be ready “before the end of the year”.

WATCH France's 'flying soldier' prepare for his attempt to reach England


Zapata successfully arrived in England on Sunday. Photo: AFP

“People dream of flying, we've all lived with science fiction movies. We waited until 2015, and Marty Mc Fly's hoverboard as in the movie Back to the Future.

“There were none, so we did it,” he said at a press conference. “In 2015, we were also expecting flying cars as in The Fifth Element. There isn't, well, we're going to do one!”

The Marseille native told local media station Made In Marseille: “When it is finished, my car will be able to go from Marseille to Montpellier (120km as the crow flies) in one go.”

Since the ending of his career as a jet-ski champion, the inventor and military reservist has been creating flying devices.

 

His flyboard was introduced to the wider world during France's Bastille Day parade when he soared above the crowds in Paris.

On Sunday he succeeded at his second attempt to become the first person to cross the English channel by flyboard.

The one-man flyboard has the drawback of only being able to run for around 10 minutes before it needs refuelling, necessitating a tricky landing on a ship in the middle of the Channel to refuel.

However his flying cars are a more long-distance proposal.

Zapata with his wife Krystal and his design team. Photo: AFP

His creation involves up to 10 gas turbines mounted on a chassis, creating at car that could travel around 100km at a time and reach top speeds of 300 km/h.

Dad-of-one Zapata, 40, says that he has a chassis built and ready to go, and is now awaiting authorisation to test the prototype in the skies above the south of France. 

His wife Krystal told French media after his successful Channel crossing that this would not be the end of his exploits.

“Nothing can stop him. He's like that, he'll never stop,” she said.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier

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