Ready For Flying Cars … ???

“Mark my word. A combination airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile. But it will come.” – Henry Ford, circa 1940

You may remember my previous posts No Driverless Cars, Please; Installing Morals Into Self-Driving CarsA New Kind Of Hood OrnamentCrash!  about driverless cars.  You may also remember that I am not sold on the idea, though I am also less than enthusiastic about humans being allowed to operate a 2,000 pound potential projectile on roadways!  Well … those fears were bad enough, but today I find that it is even worse than I feared.  Welcome, the … {drumroll} … FLYING CAR!!!

Three headlines just this week:

  • AeroMobil Flying Car now available for pre-order
  • Uber Really Seriously Promises Flying Cars by 2020
  • It’s Time for a Reality Check on Flying Cars Like Uber’s

And Filosofa is now ready to give up any and all driving privileges and become a complete hermit.

I don’t deny that technology has some benefits and has been used to do some good things.  For example, my electricity went out one day a couple of weeks ago.  No reason that I could tell … it was neither stormy nor windy, but the electricity flickered, then died.  I wondered what happened, wondered if it would be out for a few minutes, or a few days.  But I did not have to wonder for long, because within 10 minutes or so I received a text message from Duke Energy informing me that they were aware of an outage in the area and that they anticipated having power restored no later than 4:30 p.m.  The power actually came back on around 3:30 p.m., and within just a few minutes I received another text message from Duke asking me to text “1” if my power was restored, “2” if I was unsure, and “3” if it was still out.  I am just curious how a person would be ‘unsure’ whether they had electricity or not. I texted “1” and received a ‘thank you” text in return.  At the time, I thought, “what a great use for technology!!!”

But I do NOT think flying cars is a great use of technology.  At least, I do not think it is a technology for which the world is ready, given that people seem to have enough trouble driving safely on the roadways.  However, there are a number of companies vying to be the first to market a viable flying car, most determined to have them in the hands of crazy drivers everywhere by at least 2020.

First, there is the Kitty Hawk Flyer …

flying-car-3-kitty-hawk-flyer

This is not the most impressive, as it does not actually resemble a car at all, and only carries one person … no passengers, no luggage, no bags of groceries.  The Flyer is the brainchild of a Silicone Valley start-up called Kitty Hawk, funded by Google founder Larry Page. The company plans to have their car in production and available to the public by the end of this year. No word yet on the price, but interested parties can pay $100 to sign up for a $2,000 discount on the retail price.

Of a more practical nature is the AeroMobil Flying Car …

This one was unveiled this week at Top Marques Monaco by none other than the Prince of Monaco himself, and is already available for pre-order, though it is not expected to go into full production until 2020.  It can be driven on the highway, at speeds up to 99 miles per hour, then converted for flying in under three minutes, and take to the air at speeds up to 161 miles per hour.  It is also capable of carrying up to 529 pounds, or two adults plus luggage, unless the adults are super-chunky.  Though the final price is not yet set, it is expected to run between $1.2 million to $1.6 million.  Whew … it is comforting to know that only 1% of the population will stand a chance at buying one!

And lastly, there is the Uber Air Taxi …

This one is different from the AeroMobil in that it uses vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (VTOL), rather like a helicopter, so no runway is needed.  They would operate from “vertiports” situated around urban areas, predominantly atop buildings. And, at some point in the future, they would be unmanned. GASP … shoot me now!  The initial testing is expected in 2020 in Dallas and Dubai.  Sigh.

Airbus is also working on a similar concept, as are a number of other companies, Aurora Flight Sciences, Joby Aviation and Zee.Aero.

flying-cars-airbus

There are a number of obstacles that must be addressed before any of these vehicles can actually be placed in the hands of the public:

  • What happens in the event of a mechanical failure? One cannot simply pull off to the side of the road when there is no road.  Gravity plays a role here …
  • Today’s battery technology cannot support flights of a reasonable distance, say a 30- or 50-mile commute.
  • Weather conditions – how will these relatively lightweight vehicles deal with strong winds, sleet, and the like?
  • How much air do you own above your home? A plane at 30,000 feet is probably okay, but a flying car at 100 feet probably isn’t. The law is not clear on this.
  • Air traffic control systems will need to be re-structured to accommodate these types of vehicles.
  • The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) will need to come up with a set of regulations … and obviously police will need to have a presence in the air … how else will they stop speeders and reckless flyers? Instead of DWI, will we have FWI?
  • And the biggest hurdle, at least from my perspective, is that I do not think most humans are capable of ‘driving’ safely 100-200 feet in the air … heck, most humans seem incapable of driving safely anywhere, as they are typically distracted by cell phones, juggling beverages & food, or disciplining their kids in the back seat.

I have serious reservations about the whole self-driving car thing.  I think recreational drones are interesting, but I am not a fan.  I was thoroughly distressed when I heard that Amazon was considering using drones to deliver packages, envisioning stepping outside my front door one day, only to have my monthly shipment of Tide pods, Mr. Clean, Cascade and coffee pods land smack on top of my head!  But the thoughts of drivers flying around just over my head … no … just NO.

Self-driving car expert Brad Templeton recently said, “I love the idea of being able to go out into my backyard and hop into my flying car, but I hate the idea of my next-door neighbor having one.”

11 thoughts on “Ready For Flying Cars … ???

  1. Pingback: Ready For Flying Cars … ??? – RoadAware

  2. Jill, my thoughts range from the flying AMC car in “Man with the Golden Gun” to George flying to work in “The Jetsons.” I worry about driving in two dimensions. Adding that third one, may cause some vertical accidents, not to mention running into a drone. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the Airbus one. I can get to do my shopping in that one and straight home with the freezer stuff, no following all the winding roads.Of course if you have to learn to drive to have one I’m in trouble.
    xxx Cwtch Mawr xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha … I hear you, David! Nothing worse than melted ice cream because you had to sit in traffic for 30 minutes! But then, I live just across the street from the local Kroger, so not an issue for me. 😀 I think they are still trying to sort out where pilot’s licenses would be required for these vehicles, but if I were offering financial advise, I would say this might be a good time to open a flight school!

      Cwtch Mawr, dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

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