Right Now. Yes, but the term “car” is a loose one here. The Transition by Terrafugia is essentially a plane with robustly functional wheels and fold up wings. The video on its website claims “road legal.” (the transition) Compare its in-air cruise speed of 100 mph to a Cessna 172’s 140 mph. (models 172) The Transition feels a little underpowered. Harken, its video shows it cruising leisurely through country roads. No freeways, no rush hour traffic. At best, the Transition gets an A for effort. Contestant number 2, the Kitty Hawk looks like a flying one-man hovercraft. It lands and takes off on water and looks more like a motorcycle than a car. Why is it a flying car? Because it doesn’t fit in the plane or helicopter category; and flying car has a familiar ring to it. The Kitty Hawk is a thing better seen than described. www.kittyhawk.aero
No, Really! Uber Elevate offers on demand “Flying Cars” that are essentially partially autonomous vertical take-off and landing planes. (elevate) Pilots will assist the vehicle in certain maneuverers early in the program, but eventually be replaced. (elevate) Elevate will only transport passengers from “heliports.” However, in that Elevate offers a personalized flying vehicle, the core concept aligns with the tradition of the car especially in light of the way Uber has changed the car from a totally personalized vehicle to a sometimes shared vehicle. Next, Airbus Pop.Up offers an autonomous car that connects to a large eight-rotored drone. (airbus swears podcardrone serious idea definitely) The car will operate like other autonomous vehicles, but can summon the drone to pick it up and drop it off at a desired location. Both are only concepts currently. With proper funding, follow through, and progress of auxiliary technologies, both could be reality in a few years.
But First Uber Elevate will need licensed pilots that do not currently exist. (elevate) This type of license will need to be less intensive than a typical because the piloting requirements are less demanding, assisted take-off and landing only, and pay is lower. (elevate) Autonomous technology needs to grow up. The above and other programs rely heavily on this future promise maturing to the point of undoubtable safety. Next, infrastructure is required for all-of-these programs. As compared to flying car fantasies of the 50s, building needed systems is very feasible, but still more commitment than all interested parties (the company, government national and local, etc.) may be willing to shoulder. Lastly, batteries must last longer and be more dependable. The above and other solutions are battery powered, but unlike a battery powered car which will simply stop working, a flying vehicle will need to make it to the ground safely if the battery should run out of power or fail. While the hurdles to the flying car are smaller, only time will tell if the prize is worth the price.
Tracking Still Needed As we approach flying cars, the question then becomes do we still need vehicle tracking? The short and concise answer is a resounding “YES.” In actuality with flying cars there will be even a higher need for vehicle tracking because of all the safety concerns. Similar to airplanes now a days, they all are constantly being tracked in order to prevent them from crashing into others. For planes, tracking is a requirement, so as we move to flying cars, vehicle tracking will move towards being a requirement too. This will just benefit owners and managers, as with tracking it means optimized operations which leads to higher profits.
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