It’s time to give up your dreams. Flying cars won’t be in our lifetime.
We’ve come close to flying cars. In fact, they already exist in some capacity. So, why don’t we see them in the sky? Because, simply put, the idea is stupid and flawed in infinite ways and once you begin to understand their problems, you begin to wonder why the dream of flying cars is still so alive.
Flying cars seem to always play a prime part in our visions of the future, whether it be in a sci-fi blockbuster or at the latest big car expo event. Cars have been intertwined with flight from a very early stage.
Even as far back as 1927 during the infancy of the car industry, we learn that Ford showed off their Sky Flivver concept which was a small single-seat aeroplane with a large Ford logo displaying on the side. In 1940, Henry Ford was so bold to say “Mark my word: a combination airplane and motorcar is coming.”.
Whatever decade you look at, from the 60s to the 90s to the present, flying cars have always had a presence. In recent years, the ‘flying car’ has even materialised as working concepts that could actually work.
Volvo, known to be the safest car manufacturer in the world, created a ‘Volocopter’ – a VTOL drone-like personal aircraft that uses 18 rotors to carry up to two passengers. It had its maiden flight in 2013 and performed just fine.
However, this type of ‘flying car’ is actually incorrectly named as it isn’t a car at all. If anything, it’s just a small helicopter.
According to Juraj Vaculik, chief executive of Slovakian startup AeroMobil, roughly 90% of flying car prototypes really aren’t cars at all. A car should be able to drive on a road and also have the capability of flying, therefore all of the concepts similar to the Volocopter are actually not cars at all.
Some better, more car-like flying car concepts include the AeroMobil 3.0, PAL-V and the Terrafugia Transition. These vehicles are designed to both fly in the air and drive on the road. They have wheels, wing mirrors and headlights, unlike the many drone-like creations that have been created by various companies falsely calling them ‘flying cars’.
That being said, it really doesn’t matter whether these ‘flying cars’ are just big drones or actually road-legal, because both forms of the idea will never be integrated into our societies. Well, not for the foreseeable future at least.
This is because of the wide range of limiting factors that the concepts cannot avoid. The nature of the idea itself is problematic from the start and I think, it could be another 100 years before this kind of technology actually becomes real and applied in everyday life.
Questions such as; who would pilot these cars? Could an ordinary driver attain a license? Would they have to be autopilot and how would engineers create safe autopilot systems? How would traffic work? What if they fell from the sky? What about navigating around tall buildings? How would they deal with adverse weather? What about all the noise? What about the added pollution? How would they be affordable?
All of these questions would require an answer/solution before cars fly. And these questions have just come from the top of my head.
If you admire Elon Musk then perhaps he will help convince you that flying cars are nothing more than a distant dream. In an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Musk explained that flying cars would never work:
“If there are flying cars, then well obviously you have added this additional dimension where a car could potentially fall on your head and would be susceptible to weather,”
Musk added, “And of course you’d have to have a flying car [that operates by] autopilot because otherwise, forget it.”
These are just two of the many problems to the idea but are also two of the biggest. For flying cars to be accepted by government, they would first have to be completely safe and up to the same strict standards that aeroplanes have in place. If not, flying cars would be a plague on our society, causing countless deaths and injuries every day.
Ordinary road-going vehicles are already bad enough in terms of accidents, so how on earth could the human race be ready for flying cars? And when flying cars crash or malfunction, the potential collateral damage will be 100x that of an ordinary car. They won’t simply crash into a lamppost or just hit another car, they would be falling out the sky, hurtling towards the ground and damaging everything they hit on their way down!
Furthermore, as Musk said, the most realistic concept of flying a car would be a self-driving/self-piloting one. We may as well forget about the idea of driving our own personal flying cars. If our sky really was full of flying, high-speed cars, do you really think the government would let us drive any of them? It just wouldn’t be sensible.
Think about how much training a pilot has to do, the fees involved and the rigorous pre-flight checks that are carried out before each flight. All of these precautions are put in place just so people can fly planes in a relatively uncrowded airspace. So it seems unrealistic to be allowed to fly a vehicle in a crowded sky full of flying cars, as seen in Star Wars or Blade Runner.
Flying vehicles such as helicopters and planes are also terribly loud, something that is often changed in sci-fi films. Jet engines and rotors make a lot of noise and it will likely be a while before the technology exists to make them much quieter. So this is just another big problem to add to the ever-expanding list.
All in all, flying cars are a lie. A lie that we have created for ourselves to believe. Or, if you’re more of an optimist, perhaps they are a goal. One that is not quite impossible and with enough hard work, it could be one that humans achieve.
What do you think of flying cars? Pure fairytale or something you think will soon be real?
For more articles like this, receive our weekly e-newsletter, including partner deals and all things motoring, register your email below.