Ever wondered what happened to those sci-fi cars that would zoom through the air, taking you from one end to the other in a matter of seconds? The cars popularized by the early visionaries who dreamt of a different future for the 21st century remains a possibility in the distant future. That is even though we have crossed over two decades into the 21st century.
Was the vision too unrealistic to be materialized? Indeed we haven’t reached mars yet, but yes, robots are slowly starting to replace manual labor. So why hasn’t the idea caught up and how far away are we from the new future?
The Limitations We Are Fighting Against
A flying car is a vehicle that will be transporting people through the air. The practicality of operating it in the air where lanes and speed are not clear is a monumental task in itself. Add to it the high population of drivers. All of this requires much more planning than the technology itself.
It does not mean that flying cars will become normal. The cost and maintenance of these futuristic things might not be affordable to the masses. That brings in the second black-hole, which needs to be addressed. Why would companies invest billions of dollars on a project from which they cannot profit?
The only other way is to use them as modes of public transport, which is a highly ambitious project. The developers and the service provider plan to roll out air taxis within a few years, making the far away future seem a near reality.
But the question arises, do you trust them enough with your life? The flights have been here for almost a century, but it is not more than two decades or so since it has become the obvious choice. Will the air taxi cut short that period of trust between the consumer and the service providers?
These are all questions of the future we may have to divulge in sooner or later.
What Is Near To Us?
The market for air mobility is steadily rising with each year into the tech-savvy world. Companies like Uber, Boeing, and Toyota are exploring air mobility and bringing the future with VTOLS referring to vertical takeoff and landing vehicles. Continuing innovations in the hardware, software, and especially the telecommunication area have made it possible for commercial usage of these cars that are safe by standards and meet the time demands, i.e., saving time.
The idea of self-driving or automated is more exciting, thanks to other automated vehicles that are part of our daily life. Companies like Terrafugia have a transition model flying car, and so does Aero Mobile. They are also shifting their focus to VTOLS. Uber is planning to commercially use the airmobile as one of its services in collaboration with Boeing who will manufacture the VTOLS. Similarly, Airbus, Toyota, and many startups are exploring the wide market range and are trying to bring forth various models to make them a reality.
The Problems That Arise
With the shift to cater to both land and air, the vehicle must satisfy specific demands. Being lightweight and aerodynamically favorable to lift, carry, and land takes the topmost priority. This limits a lot of experiments with the power source. At present, the most fruitful one is the high-powered batteries, but they too might drain out depending on the destination, leaving with no backup option.
An automated machine means it will be equipped with sensors and other features to max up the security. This might be a possible intrusion into others’ daily lives around you and a source of concern for the invasion of privacy in many aspects. The high-powered rotors sure do make a lot of noise. The airmobile’s buzzing sound has no other alternative and hence leaves a little less area for improvement.
The major shift of focus to VTOLS than flying cars is its limitation of having a runway necessary to take off and land, similar to the current airplanes. In comparison, the VTOLS doesn’t need them by vertically going up and landing. Still, they cannot land on a busy and running road due to others’ safety.
A hybrid vehicle or airmobile must have certification from FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and NHTSA (National Highway Safety Administration). It certainly is as risky as operating a plane. Hence a more rigorous approach and safety standards are mandated to ensure the safety of both fliers and the people below.
With the electric batteries, a pro-environment outlook saves the grace for the air mobiles. With more people receptive to sharing rides and with time being the primary concern bridging between them, the air mobiles will fill the gap between the cars and commercial planes. But it still does remain an open debate whether we can see a future where every family will own one of these.