Green Room

Video: Is the age of the flying car about to arrive?

posted at 12:40 pm on May 24, 2013 by

Let’s face it — a lot of us who grew up on the Jetsons feel pretty ripped off these days, especially while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  However, this video report from Reuters suggests that we may soon see a practical option for a flying car:

Actually, I’ve always had reservations about this concept.  People drive bad enough on the ground for us to daydream in traffic jams about flying above it all.  What happens when that becomes a widely-available option?  The same bad drivers on the ground will be up in the air at the same time, a prospect that doesn’t sound safe in the air or on the ground below. What do we do with power and phone lines?  What happens when people fly straight to destinations rather than along roads, where cross-traffic isn’t just perpendicular but every angle on the compass as well as above and below?

I’m glad I work from home, that’s all I have to say.

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We’ll have bad drivers driving in three dimensions, not just two. What’s the worst that could happen?

rbj on May 24, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Loooooney.

kemojr on May 24, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Ultimately the success of the flying car will depend on them being piloted automatically via a central air traffic control system. thats the only way to avoid crashes.

I’ve been thinking about this for years and I’m not sure why.

vinylsquares on May 24, 2013 at 1:00 PM

I wouldn’t put much stock in this until they have an actual prototype. I married into an aviation family, so I know a little bit about aviation, from both fixed wing and rotor craft.

To me, their computer mockup just looks all wrong, even considering if they use a low-weight carbon-fiber design… Way, way too little wing surface area for lift during flight, too heavy with motors for both upward and forward lift.

Also, I question the economics of the business. The extreme cost for fuel and maintenance will kill you (avgas around $5/gallon with burn rates measured in gallons per hour, plus once a year “annuals” where you literally pull the engine out of the plane and have it inspected) will stop most buyers.

And the computer navigation systems they’re talking about are for high-altitude commercial and military craft. There is no provision for tracking most low-level craft like my father-in-law’s Cessna 180, which is what will be located at small airports where this will be able to operate.

Sorry, but this doesn’t look viable in it’s current design. One look at the upward lift rotors where half the lift area is blocked by the fixed wings should tell you that.

But like I said… I married into an aviation family, I’m not training in aeronautical design.

dominigan on May 24, 2013 at 1:29 PM

I’m gonna wait for teleporters.

BL@KBIRD on May 24, 2013 at 1:36 PM

As a former pilot all I can say is. Not going to happen. The safety issues are many. You have rotor/props spinning at head height, possibility of bird strikes, engine problems, electronic failures, icing and a whole bunch of other safety issues. Flying cars are a nice fantasy but, I think impracticable as a viable transport system.

Dr. Frank Enstine on May 24, 2013 at 1:46 PM

I’m gonna wait for teleporters.
BL@KBIRD on May 24, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Teleporters kill the person being teleported. In my opinion traveling faster is not worth dying for. Maybe folded space or worm holes could work but, I doubt it.

I wonder if a teleporter could remove illness, fat, gray hair or even add all of those.

Dr. Frank Enstine on May 24, 2013 at 1:50 PM

I’m gonna wait for teleporters.

BL@KBIRD on May 24, 2013 at 1:36 PM

As a former pilot all I can say is. Not going to happen. The safety issues are many. You have rotor/props spinning at head height, possibility of bird strikes, engine problems, electronic failures, icing and a whole bunch of other safety issues. Flying cars are a nice fantasy but, I think impracticable as a viable transport system.

Dr. Frank Enstine on May 24, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Ditto for teleportation. Converting matter into an electromagnetic signal and transmitting it, whether via wire or over the air, would take a ridiculously huge amount of energy. And even if the hardware could handle the complexities of disassembling and reassembling a human body along with its clothes and the contents of its pockets without scrambling anything, the disruption of life processes like breathing, heartbeat and brain activity couldn’t be properly restarted.

CurtZHP on May 24, 2013 at 1:53 PM

Seems the good doctor can type much faster.

CurtZHP on May 24, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Just wait for the upgrade to the 3D printer.
We can put the original in one in DC and print it in Leavenworth Prison.
I can hardly wait!

countrybumpkin on May 24, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Pass. I want FTL sooner than I want to fly the skies with personal vehicles.

nobar on May 24, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Yep. Hover Conversions will be $39,999.95 in two years. I’ll pay for mine with the money I win betting on the Cubs in the World Series…

Gingotts on May 24, 2013 at 2:26 PM

Back in my day, flying cars were fueled by whale oil, I tell ya.

But seriously, just make them all drones you can rent to take you from A to B. The wealthy can purchase their own flying cars and so on.

antisense on May 24, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Oh could I have fun buzzing the neighbors with that. :)

scalleywag on May 24, 2013 at 3:17 PM

And the cows!

scalleywag on May 24, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Ditto for teleportation. Converting matter into an electromagnetic signal and transmitting it, whether via wire or over the air, would take a ridiculously huge amount of energy. And even if the hardware could handle the complexities of disassembling and reassembling a human body along with its clothes and the contents of its pockets without scrambling anything, the disruption of life processes like breathing, heartbeat and brain activity couldn’t be properly restarted.
CurtZHP on May 24, 2013 at 1:53 PM

Agreed. My money’s on controllable wormholes, like Stargate. At least bending space makes sense, unlike matter/energy/matter conversions.

Marcola on May 24, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Cool! As for teleporters. No way! Not after reading ‘The Jaunt’ a short story by Stephen King years ago.

D-Bar on May 24, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Anti-Gravity, it works for flying saucers. But seriously, a practical counter-grav drive is also our answer to single stage to orbit (SSTO) flight, plus provide impulse engines to your FTL ships.

El Coqui on May 24, 2013 at 4:26 PM

The same bad drivers on the ground will be up in the air at the same time

When the flying cars arrive, there won’t be a passenger driver. It will be controlled by gps computers, etc. It shouldn’t have to be a government controlled thing, but it would be if the creators of the car don’t take responsibility for controlling the traffic. Won’t be much fun being in one, but the point is getting from point a to point b.

Buddahpundit on May 25, 2013 at 11:28 PM

Buddahpundit on May 25, 2013 at 11:28 PM

Yeah, electronics never go bb@D759%%##(*.
/

S. D. on June 1, 2013 at 7:37 PM