The Future is Now: Flying Cars are Becoming a Reality
We are living in a world that once only existed in science fiction films and books. We have access to video communication, artificially created organs, and space travel. Scientists even reported the successful teleportation of a photon to near-earth orbit. However, there is one thing that has not yet found its place in our world – flying cars. Henry Ford promised flying cars back in the first half of the 20th century, and we were even shown them in films about the future shot in the 80s. In this article, we will discuss the developments in flying car technology and their potential impact on our daily lives.
The Need for Flying Cars:
The need for flying cars stems from the increasing problems caused by car traffic. With growing cities, there is an increasing need for population mobility. However, building anything new that involves cars does not improve the quality of life rather, on the contrary, it brings many additional problems. Residents of major cities like New York, Mexico City, Beijing, and Istanbul are well aware of these inconveniences, standing for hours in traffic jams, breathing in exhaust gases, and suffering from an aggressive urban environment. Road transport traffic congestion directly affects the number of harmful emissions, which in turn threaten the fragile ecosystems of our planet, harming our own health. In recent years, great hopes have been pinned on electric vehicles, which in theory should rid mankind of exhaust gases and related problems. However, even the ubiquity of electric vehicles will not solve the problem of car traffic. Roads will continue to require constant repair and maintenance, people will continue to experience fatal accidents, and time spent in environmentally friendly traffic jams will continue to cause stress. Hence, the logical conclusion follows that we have no choice but to master the airspace for everyday movement.
Potential for Flying Cars:
Several prototypes of flying machines are being actively developed, which probably in the next few years will allow us to rise above traffic jams. Moreover, it is already clear that flying cars with internal combustion engines which require a runway to take off into the air will lose the battle for air to promising aircraft with electric motors and vertical takeoff. Three startups from China, Germany, and Japan have already made significant progress in creating just such models.
Flying Cars in China:
The Chinese company, Ehang, is the closest to the practical operation of flying machines and received official permission from the civil aviation administration of China back in 2014. The developer introduced the Ehang 184 single-seat air taxi model, which made several thousand test flights, including a vertical takeoff to an altitude of 300 meters, a long-distance flight of 15 kilometers, and a high-speed race at a speed of 130 kilometers per hour. Ehang’s latest development is a two-seater taxi with six electric motors, which can reach speeds of up to 97 kilometers an hour and travel up to 32 kilometers without recharging. At the end of 2020, the Chinese developer announced the launch of tourist sightseeing flights in China’s Xiaoqing. In the near future, the company plans to make Guangzhao the first city in the world with an operating fleet of flying taxis. Ehang had to do a tremendous amount of work to get the approval of the Chinese air authority. From a technical point of view, the developers have designed a drone quadcopter with a passenger capsule, four powerful electric motors, and an autonomous control system that will allow passengers to independently choose one of the proposed flight routes.
Flying Cars in Germany:
A serious competitor to the Chinese manufacturer is the German company Volocopter, which has been prototyping flying machines for more than 10 years. In 2011, the company presented a multi-rotor with a platform for one person. Two years later, the pilot launch of the two-seater vc200 model took place even without the participation of pilots. To create this model, the company received a grant of two million dollars from the German government. In August 2019, Volocopter came even close to the mass launch of its flying machines, presenting the first commercial air taxi, VoloCity, capable of carrying two people with hand luggage up to 35 kilometers at a flight speed of up to 110 kilometers per hour. The VoloCity mini-helicopter with 18 propellers, two electric motors, and nine battery packs was a logical continuation of the first three test models. The device was designed under the standards of the European Aviation Safety Agency. Volocopter has already completed preliminary tests in Singapore, Helsinki, Dubai, and Stuttgart. Volocopter plans to launch its first commercial flights in 2022 for 300 euros for a 15-minute flight. The main platform for the regular operation of VoloCity as a flying taxi in 2026 will be Singapore, from whose authorities the Germans have enlisted all-around support.
Flying Cars in Japan:
The main hopes for flying cars are pinned on SkyDrive, a Japanese startup. According to the company’s engineers, they managed to create the most compact electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, which takes only two parking spaces. Currently, the car equipped with eight engines can stay in the air for no more than 10 minutes, moving at a minimum speed. The SkyDrive production model is going to be released by 2023, increasing the speed to 60 kilometers an hour and the flight duration to half an hour. Open tests of a passenger quadcopter are actively carried out at the Toyota test site. The prospects of the project are evidenced by the direct participation in the startup not only of the Japanese auto giants but also of companies such as Panasonic and Fujitsu. Moreover, the developers are supported by the Japanese government, which plans to start commercial operation of flying cars and passenger drones by 2023.
In conclusion, flying cars are no longer a figment of our imagination but are soon turning into a reality. The development of flying machines comes as a relief to the problems caused by car traffic. Flying taxis will allow us to rise above traffic jams and save us time spent in traffic, which causes stress and harm to our health. Flying machines come in different sizes and capabilities, allowing us to choose the one that fits our needs. With the great progress of recent years in the creation of flying machines, there is now less and less time to create air traffic rules, approve noise standards, and build all the necessary infrastructure in the form of gas stations and take-off sites. However, it is only a matter of time before the skyline changes beyond recognition, and we no longer have to endure the environmental repercussions of traffic.