Not content with shaking up the taxi industry and playing a role in self-driving cars, Uber is planning on offering a ride-share service in the sky by the year 2010.
The company, known for its ride app and its reputation for horrendous customer service, isn’t the only company bidding to put flying cars in the sky. But just how realistic is it exactly?
Are they really cars?
Many of us see flying cars as being something belonging in the realm of science fiction, or a faraway future, at least. After all, we’ve read about it in fiction or seen it in the movies many times over. Bond author Ian Fleming loved the idea and even wrote his 1963 novel Chitty Chitty Bang Bang around the idea.
Fleming further explored the idea a year later in his Bond novel The Man With The Golden Gun. The car he wrote about it rode like any other car but with an added dimension in that it was also able to fly.
Science fiction writers and filmmakers, however, have often created flying cars in worlds without a need for cars to drive on the road. They were instead small aircrafts, like the one that Anakin Skywalker used in Star Wars Episode 11: Attack of the Clones.
How easy will they be?
There are a number of difficult aspects related to flying cars but some problems will be easier to overcome than others. There is far more available space for cars when there is three dimensional-access for travel but that would only be the case if navigation issues are resolved.
The several hundred metres of space above ground means there is potential for a steep reduction in traffic congestion. Further, it would mean that expensive road infrastructure wouldn’t be needed. For self-driving flying cars, there are parts of traffic control and planning that would come easier when moving into the sky.
How safe are they?
As with any technology at such an early stage, as of now, it is unlikely to be very safe. Companies, however, are working tirelessly to make these aircrafts safe enough for governments and regulations to deem them fit enough for people to travel in.
Among the biggest challenges is what to do when things go wrong. If a problem occurs on the road, the driver can break and stop. A flying car, however, might simply fall from the sky, which would kill its occupants and potentially, bystanders
A Chinese firm called Ehang has come up with the idea of equipping its Dubai-based flying car service with a parachute, Should it deploy, however, it’s uncertain as to whether the car will be able to determine where it lands.
When will they be available?
There is a long way to go before flying cars become a part of everyday life. While the technology has made huge strides, largely as a result of the advancements made in drones, the technology behind the actual machine is only a single part of a complex system. Just as is the case with self-driving cars, it’s likely that should flying cars become a reality, they will at first be operated in specific areas only.