The flying car- it has been a science fiction fantasy for as long as there’s been science fiction. It’s a notion so compelling that it has driven countless designers to attempt to solve the inherent problems with the concept, and for many to fail spectacularly.
Rooted in the unspectacular desire to rid our daily lives of traffic and meandering, indirect streets, the flying car nonetheless conjures up images of a brighter tomorrow and safer cities and cities across the world. It’s a remote dream, or at least, it has traditionally been.
Today, an increasing number of aerospace companies, both big and small, are investigating the possibility of the flying vehicle – aircraft capable of carrying single individuals or small freight through the atmosphere autonomously, acting as a type of air-based taxi.
Indeed, whilst the likes of Airbus have been covertly developing a PSF via their A3 venture capital division, upstart Chinese companies like eHang have launched their own PSF drones, like the eHang 184, which closely mimicking the consumer drones you will find hovering over public parks throughout the world.
The latter is capable of carrying one passenger around 100kg and their light freight for up to thirty minutes at a time, using a fully vertical take-off and a cruising speed of 40mph. The passenger chooses between a number of pre-determined destinations on a touchscreen located within the cockpit and, well, away they go.
It’s not only a concept either. In Dubai, city officials have declared that the 184 will start ferrying passengers throughout 2017, and the vehicle also gained consent for test flights in Nevada, where it could show up to help wealthy guests get from airport to casino, or from nightlife place to nightlife spot.
All of which has posed many to ask the question, are private flying vehicles the future of transport? Well, there’s some challenges to overcome first. Namely, passenger capacity and regulatory issues. Although the ability to travel alone is valued, many more travel in pairs or as groups. Improving motor technology and passenger capacity would go some way to raising the likelihood of widespread public adoption.
The other issue a more complex one – atmosphere regulation. At the moment, there are stringent laws which prohibit these kinds of vehicles in most countries and cities.
With all that said though, it feels like we’re closer than ever to the fantasy of the flying car – and is not that exciting?
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