Thursday, April 5, 2012

The A to Z of Fiction to Reality: Flying Cars

There may be no better indication that the future has arrived (when it does arrive) than that there will be flying cars sitting in people's driveways. As with driverless cars, the idea of cars that can fly has been around almost as long as cars have been around. But, then, the desire for flight goes back thousands of years. All you have to do is flip through Greek mythology to find stories of Man riding flying horses or Man making wings from feathers and wax to know that man has always wanted to fly. It's no surprise that we want our cars to fly, too.

It may have been The Jetsons, though, that really embedded the idea of the future and flying cars into our psyches.
What kid growing up watching this cartoon didn't want one of these? Well, maybe not precisely one of these, but a car that flew, nonetheless.
George Lucas didn't help when he created this
even if it doesn't quite fly.
And we can't forget

However, it was probably the movie Blade Runner that really sealed the deal and presented us a future vision, even if it was a bleak future vision, of a world with cars that fly:
It's been a while since I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but I'm pretty sure the flying cars are in the novel, too. Almost positive.

The thing is... flying cars are here. They sort of have a mythical quality to them, right now. You hear about this company or that company working on them, promising them, but they never seem to be quite available, so everyone seems to think it's just one big scam. I think it's really a matter of the government, though. And, probably, the airlines. I mean, if people can own flying cars, we won't really need airlines so much anymore, will we? Maybe for international travel. For a while. At any rate, several companies have fully functional flying cars ready to go, but there continue to be, and pardon the pun, roadblocks at every turn.

This is my favorite one:
That's the Moller Skycar M400. It has vertical take off and landing, can go 400mph, and has a 900 mile range. It even gets around 20 miles to the gallon, which isn't bad considering our old van barely got that. The real issue? The $1,000,000 eventual price tag. They do have a four-seat model, though.

A model more likely to be ready for the general public within a reasonable time frame is The Transition. I believe a pilot's license is required, though. You can find out more about it here.

This is a future I really expect to see in my life time. I hope. The whole flying car thing just seems to have gotten bogged down in government red tape. But they're real. They work. They just cost a lot of money. And, well, they're not really legal, yet.

19 comments:

  1. Vertical takeoff? No more being stuck in traffic!

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  2. My favorite flying car was in the Fifth Element with Korben Dallas as the driver :) But you mentioned Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream?! That was my D blog!! Yet another awesome post!

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  3. I'd probably go with the personal jetpacks over a flying car. However, until they get those driverless cars perfected that you discussed the other day I'm not so sure I want to see american drivers taking to the skies. My kid's getting his license soon. He can't keep the lawn mower under control, he'd run a flying vehicle into anything would stay still long enough for him to hit it.

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  4. I'm with Rusty. I'll take a jetpack over a flying car. Plus, I don't think my dogs would enjoy a flying car. They probably wouldn't be able to stick their heads out of the window then.

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  5. Jetpacks are the motorcycles of flying cars -- way cooler, in a fashion, but also pretty much far deadlier overall. At least with a flying car there's a shell around you.

    Andrew: You would like this:

    http://io9.com/5888216/the-first-flying-car-was-based-on-the-ford-pinto-and-killed-its-inventor

    A real flying car! That didn't work.

    It seems we're supposed to list our favorite flying cars here, but I'm going to go another route (surprise!) and say that I'm holding out for those floating tubes Futurama said we'd all get by the year 3000.

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  6. They will be available for the 1%. The 99% will not be able to afford them.

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  7. Yeah... I'm thinking that once they do come out, they'll become cheaper as more of them are produced. Sort of like cell-phones, I hope. ;-P

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  8. I've always thought it would be neat to live in Coruscant. Maybe if flying cars become cheaper we can have a city like that someday...

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  9. Alex: Yeah, VTOL would certainly be a lot nicer than having to drive to an airfield, which is what the government wants to require.

    S.L.: It's been too long since I've seen 5th Element; maybe I need to watch that again soon.

    Rusty: Some of the flying cars I've read about have incredible redundant systems that are designed to prevent accidents. It's actually pretty impressive.

    M.J.: Oh, man, I bet your dogs would love a flying car! Just think, they could actually bark at birds going by!

    Briane: Floating tubes? You mean like inner tubes for the water? I always hated those.
    Yes, that all means I have never seen a single episode of Futurama.

    Michael: Well, yeah, that's true. At least, at first. The Transition one has an almost reasonable projected price tag of around $60K.

    Misha: Something like that, yes. That's the hope, anyway.

    Lauren: That would be pretty cool. I want it to be on a different planet, though. Like Mars.

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    1. To answer Briane's response for him: think more along the lines of pneumatic tubes. Like at the drive through at the bank - just with people in them.

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  10. I'm sort of afraid of flying cars. People are dangerous enough on the ground. Having them flying around drunk or just stupid, while texting, etc. does not sound fun to me. I remember when I didn't think that way, though. Sad sigh. I'd rather see cars develop anti-impact cars, that can take control when someone is about to hit something, develop first, THEN go to flying cars.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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  11. Hi! I thought I'd been here and commented on your flying cars and to tell you I just saw a news item on TV showing the prototype of a flying care here in Queensland. Looks like Fifth Element is going to become a reality.

    Denise

    If I haven't already followed, I'll do so now.

    Thank you for visiting/commenting on my childhood bloggers.

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  12. I need one that will steer itself. Not too much to ask for is it?

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  13. Flying cars = futuristic fun! When I was a kid, I thought they'd be right around the corner. The Jetsons was a big lie!

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  14. Funny that you should be blogging about flying cars today. There was an article in the Atlanta newspaper today about a flying car that's going to be introduced at a New York car show. Can't remember the name of it ... starts with a T and has an Italian sounding name. (And I'm too lazy to go into my office to find the article I tore out of the paper.) A hundred people have already put $10K down on one of these cars, but the price tag is over $200. But alas, it won't be very helpful in escaping heavy traffic, because it needs a runway for take-off. Still, pretty neat. Count me in as your newest follower.

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  15. I'm with Shannon. You think people are dangerous with texting and driving now? What would it be like with flying/levitating vehicles?

    By the way, love the Jetsons. Brings back so many memories. ;)

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  16. Terrafugia is making the flying car, and it's called the Transition. Price tag expected to be $279 K. (Um, I left that all-important K off in my earlier comment. Heck, if it were only $200, I'd have to buy one!)

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  17. Shannon: Well, the driverless cars are supposed to be very good at avoiding impacts. And they do have some new safety features that they're trying to get into cars where the car AI can override the drive to avoid accidents. There are also some new exterior air bags that are being tested on some models of cars.

    Rusty: Oh... um... I'm not sure I'd want to travel by tube.

    Denise: I thought you had, too. Maybe you commented on the driverless cars? I'll have to pop over and check it.

    Sarah: Well, it probably won't be in very long.

    Susan: That sounds similar to the Transition that I mentioned.
    Oh, heh, I just saw your second comment; yeah, the transition.

    Alyssia: I don't know about the Transition, but the Moller Skycar is supposed to have all kinds of redundant safety features to prevent collisions and such.

    Alyssia:

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