Long before the Jetsons showed audiences a new future with flying cars and no roads, plans for futuristic cars had long been put on paper. Henry Ford pitched the idea for a personal airplane in 1926, which the company turned into designs for a “Model T of the air”. Almost a century later, flying cars are still not in production. Although the technology available points towards the possibility of realising the idea, flying cars could very well be the biggest pipe dream of the century.
“Roadless” travel is one of the main advantages of flying cars. As urban congestion continues to increase, the draw of flying cars becomes that much more attractive. By going over traffic congestion on the road, travel time can be cut down significantly. Flying cars allow for travel between destinations that are not as well connected. Flying cars could also be able to land in hard-to-reach spots while only occupying as much space as a traditional car.
While many dream of flying over city traffic, not many will get to. Manufacturing flying cars for the masses looks to be a failing business model, and one which many argue to be the main reason why flying cars still do not exist. Manufacturing them for a select group of drivers who may best utilise the advanced technology allows for the most amounts of innovation without needing to oversimplify for the masses.
However, those interested in building flying cars are still there. Google co-founder Larry Page is secretly funding two flying car companies and AVIC (Aviation Industry Corp. of China) unveiled a new concept for flying wheels at an expo last year. Meanwhile, Terrafugia, a flying-car manufacturer in the US is working on their third-generation prototype: a two-seat and a four-seat vehicles that could take off and land vertically.
Whether cars of the future will take flight, safety will ultimately be the deciding factor. While the technology is ultimately designed to make driving safer and faster, proper implementation is of utmost importance. Autonomous software needs to be tested out thoroughly before being rolled out, and fixes to faults in the software need to be almost instantaneous. Flying also presents a new set of dangers that are not existent in driving. Only the most experienced of drivers should be allowed to pilot these cars.
Flying cars can potentially be the key to a safer, speedier, and less-congested driving experience. Paradigm-shifting changes often take place suddenly—as evidenced by Pokemon Go—so drivers may be going places where roads are not needed sooner than expected.