Flying cars have been speculated on for decades, and they sure have been on our minds since the movie Back to The Future introduced them to us back in 1988. The notion of being able to step into a car and fly it anywhere without worrying about the dreadful traffic has been in the works for some time now, and many seem to be all for it. But what if you can step into a vehicle where you’re the passenger rather than the driver? Would you ride on it? Well, start thinking about it because some companies are trying to achieve just that.
Uber has recently begun working on technology that would allow drones, large enough to fit people, to fly at 150 miles per hour and not burn any non-renewable fuels. Back in June, a mock-up of what would be the final version showed how spacious and modern (inside and out) it would be. The inside is quite similar to the premium Uber Black rides, also indicating that they’ll be eventually just as cheap as those rides. It will be able to hold up to four passengers, and the seats will resemble more of an SUV rather than a traditional helicopter.
The popular transportation company isn’t the only one to take off in the commercial aircraft industry. NEC, a Japanese IT and network solutions provider, is working hard so that such drones are available to start deliveries in Japan by 2023. Kouji Okada, one of the project leaders at NEC, in an interview with Bloomberg said: “Japan is a densely populated country and that means flying cars could greatly alleviate the burden on road traffic. We are positioning ourselves as an enabler for air mobility providing location data and building combinations infrastructure for flying cars.”
Back in March LIFT Aircraft introduced “Hexa” an 18-rotor single-passenger drone for short recreational flights. Companies like LIFT include needing to partake in a VR training simulator, and while some of these will take a few more years to release Hexa could be publicly available later this year.
While this type of air transit very well be the way of the future for public transportation, a few key issues are still in the air. For one, regulations to allow these to operate still have to be followed. Some cities are still against wanting Uber to be a thing, so having a new option that involves an autonomous aerial vehicle to fly them around, will be harder to approve. There’s also how the weight and size of these things may affect transportation, and how people have to be under a certain weight (Uber’s requires passengers to weigh under 250 pounds) for the safety of others.
If drone cars become a reality, in the very near future we could be seeing the start of a new generation for public transportation we have been waiting to see for a long time. But will it be successful? We’ll just have to wait and see how the process unfolds.
By Jason Grioua