The flying car- it’s been a science fiction dream for as long as there’s been science fiction. It’s a notion so compelling that it’s driven countless designers to attempt to solve the inherent problems with the concept, and for most to fail spectacularly.
Rooted in the unspectacular desire to rid our daily lives of traffic and meandering, indirect roads, the flying car nonetheless conjures up images of a brighter tomorrow and safer towns and cities around the world. It’s a distant dream, or at least, it has traditionally been.
Today, more and more aerospace companies, both big and small, are investigating the possibility of the personal flying vehicle – aircraft capable of carrying single individuals or small cargo through the air autonomously, acting as a sort 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 very own PSF drones, like the eHang 184, which closely resembling the consumer drones you’ll find hovering over public parks across the world.
The latter is capable of carrying one passenger up to 100kg and their light cargo for up to 30 minutes at a time, with 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 inside the cockpit and, well, away they go.
It’s not just a concept either. In Dubai, city officials have announced that the 184 will begin ferrying passengers during 2017, and the vehicle also gained permission for test flights in Nevada, where it could show up to help wealthy guests get from airport to casino, or from nightlife spot to nightlife spot.
All of which has posed many to ask the question, are personal flying vehicles the future of transport? Well, there’s some hurdles to overcome first. Namely, passenger capacity and regulatory issues. Though the ability to travel alone is appreciated, many more travel in pairs or as groups. Improving motor technology and passenger capacity would go some way to increasing the likelihood of widespread public adoption.
The other issue a more complicated one – air regulation. At the moment, there are strict laws which prohibit these kinds of vehicles in most countries and cities. It will take countless hours of flight and a great deal of problem solving before aviation authorities around the world consider letting hundreds of autonomous aircraft in the sky.
With all that said though, it seems like we’re closer than ever to the dream of the flying car – and isn’t that exciting?