When we think about the future, the first image that comes to mind is a world with odd geometric skyscrapers and cars flying among them. But is this just a fantasy or straight out of a movie scene? Henry Ford, a vehicle manufacturer, in 1940 predicted a combination airplane and motorcar to be a reality soon. Proving Ford’s words into a true prototype flying car recently flew from Nitra to Bratislava, Slovakia. The fusion car-aircraft runs on regular petrol-pump fuel and is equipped with a BMW engine, it is named AirCar. Prof Stefan Klein, its creator said it could fly at a height of 8,200ft (2,500m) and about 1,000km (600 miles). It only takes two minutes and 15 seconds to transform into an aircraft from a car. Isn’t that amazing!
From Dream to Reality
It is a bit hard to stomach, but the future is here. As a kid when we watched the professor return from the future in a flying car time machine in the movie Back to the Future, it left us all fascinated. They pictured a futuristic world in 1985 with modern cities and flying cars in 2015. We surely were not able to live up to their expectations but took the first leap into the future 6 years later and flew the first car in the air successfully for 35 minutes on the 8th of June 2021. As a great man once said, a small step for man but a large leap for mankind. Following the test flight in Slovakia by AeroMobil, the competitor companies including Uber are now in a rush to test their design and get their models in the street. Though Uber has promised an air taxis release date by 2026, a Chinese drone company called EHang is already ready with their prototype of air taxis, waiting for government approvals. The internet with these revelations is already burning with searches like ‘when will flying cars come out; when will cars fly’ and this surely means we are ready for the future. Not only the mainstream flying car companies like Aerocar, Curtiss Autoplane, Wagner Aerocar, or Ehang has promised future flying cars, but our very own ‘Doge father‘, Elon Musk has claimed that the upcoming Tesla Roadster will come with a SpaceX package, which will include 10 rocket thrusters around the car to conquer the sky. Fascinating!
Klein’s aircraft prototype-1 is equipped with a Fix propeller BMW 160HP engine and a ballistic parachute, while it is rumored that the Aircar 2 prototype, a pre-product model, will be prepared with the 300HP engine and receives the EASA CS23 aircraft certification, with a license on the M1 road. 300 km / h (162 kt) and the range of 1000 km (22h00) is expected from prototype-2.
Challenges of Future Flying Cars
A key concern is our crowded skies; with the pandemic-struck world at pause, sure there is enough space up above but once life is normal here on earth and with flights resuming back to their original stats, it will be challenging to avail a sky to fly a flying car. The space in which these aircraft will fly is between low-quality drones and traditional airspace, indicates NASA, which are the main aircraft procedures on aerial spaces in the aircraft of ATM-X steering wheel. In these layers, they will interact and this is where everything becomes difficult NASA further adds.
Clear airspace is not the only challenge. Given the extreme shortage of pilots projected by the airline industry over the coming decades, these cars need to be using autonomous or at least highly automated systems. However, autonomous systems also lack the kind of judgment possessed by human pilots. With the high fuel prices and depleting fossil fuel reserves of the Earth, hopefully, the upcoming prototypes and the future commercialized flying vehicles will be based on renewable and sustainable sources. Solar is the most convenient with the vehicles up in the sky.
Can a Common Man Afford One?
Technology might not be a deciding factor when it comes to affordability for the common public but manufacturing definitely will. They for sure are not that affordable having the PAL-V in mind, which is foretold to be one of the cheaper models of these kinds, is likely to be priced at around $355,000. However, Uber has already been planning on introducing an air-taxi service equivalent to the fee of Uber Black Service.
But to answer the question ‘when will flying cars come out’ still remains unanswerable on strong grounds as we already have seen way too many predicted dates for the same. The codes of the World Economic Forum for the Urban Sky report predicts that air taxis or air cars can be the common scene to be seen around in 2028. They further add that against every work opportunity created in this new Aero industry, further, six jobs will be created indirectly on Earth. Sounds like a win-win for both worlds. It took years for humankind to turn fiction into reality and we are just a few steps away from the biggest scientific revolution this world has seen.
Another such ground-shaking idea was heard from the Tesla owning billionaire, Elon Musk, who took the stage at the TED conference and exchanged his ideas about the underground tunnel work and to eliminate the “soul-destroying traffic”. The plan of Musk at the time was to transport underground cars through an elevator on electric “skates“, which will lead vehicles at 130 miles on time through a series of tunnels to destination. The TED audience clapped enthusiastically at this still at its bud idea. Vegas tunnel is the first commercial application that Musk called the “loop“, a high-speed underground transport, which could carry passengers through compatible autonomic electric vehicles (AEV) up to 155 miles per hour.
In the years to come, we will see how and what adverse effects (if any) these groundbreaking ideas cause to the environment. Nevertheless, the successful implementation of the prototype flying car is a visionary landmark of the future and could be a potential solution to the strain on the existing transport crisis. For now, we just have to wait and watch!