flying-car-harry-potter

AIRBUS’ FLYING CAR

When Mr. R.P. sent the following article to me, I said, "yea, right" to myself in a somewhat skeptical and cynical voice. After all, I'm of that generation that grew up reading The Weekly Reader in elementary school. For a younger generation, it's difficult to recapture the atmosphere of scientific and technological optimism that pervaded the country after President Kennedy made his now famous speech about landing humans on the Moon and returning them safely to Earth. There were stories everywhere of flying cars, Moon colonization, and missions to Mars which would shortly follow the first Moon landings and so on. Maglev bullet trains would whisk us from New York to San Francisco in a few hours, rivaling air travel. It was an era of unbridled and probably unrealistic optimism.

And it was all there in our Weekly Readers.

So, needless to say, when I see the occasional article about flying cars - and there have been quite a few since the 1960s - I tend to roll my eyes and dismiss the whole thing. Patents have been taken out; flying cars have even been built and in a few cases(if my memory serves me correctly), even tested. Yet, I'm still driving my motorized roller skate over potholed streets and crumbling infrastructure.

But nonetheless, willing to give it "one more try", I opened the article:

Airbus CEO sees 'flying car' prototype ready by end of year

What intrigued me here were quite a few things, not the least of which was that this latest pronouncement was not coming from a Weekly Reader, but being reported by Reuters, and coming from the CEO of Europe's Airbus industries. Airbus has a corporate history on delivering on what it says it's going to do. "We're going to build the world's largest jet airliner and it's going to be a lot bigger than Boeing's 747." And they did. So when they talk about flying cars, I tend to take notice.

But there's something else here that really caught my eye, and that was the rationale for Airbus's efforts:

Airbus Group plans to test a prototype for a self-piloted flying car as a way of avoiding gridlock on city roads by the end of the year, the aerospace group's chief executive said on Monday.

Airbus last year formed a division called Urban Air Mobility that is exploring concepts such as a vehicle to transport individuals or a helicopter-style vehicle that can carry multiple riders. The aim would be for people to book the vehicle using an app, similar to car-sharing schemes.

"One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground," Airbus CEO Tom Enders told the DLD digital tech conference in Munich, adding he hoped the Airbus could fly a demonstration vehicle for single-person transport by the end of the year.

"We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously," he said, adding that Airbus recognized such technologies would have to be clean to avoid further polluting congested cities.

He said using the skies could also reduce costs for city infrastructure planners. "With flying, you don't need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads," he said.
(Emphasis added)

Gridlock, and avoidance of expensive infrastructure, like roads and bridges... in other words, Airbus is addressing a crucial issue that has been increasingly saddling localities and municipalities, particularly in the West, and at the time that financial experts - think only of German finance minister Wolfgang Schaueble here - are telling us the "debt-growth model" is over. Translation: there is now immense pressure on hedge funds, pensions, and retirement benefits in the West, and pressure on local governments to maintain, much less develop surface infrastructure, is acute. Indeed, why have roads and bridges at all? Private flying cars and even private flying "trucks" would be far more economical in a sense: up there in less dense air, resistance goes down, and with it, fuel consumption goes down. Overhead is reduced.

But would it really reduce infrastructure requirements? Perhaps. But imagine taking the traffic in Paris or London or Los Angeles, and putting it in the air: traffic control infrastructure would have to be developed, and I'm willing to guess that it would be - at least initially - as expensive as current surface or underground infrastructure.

Regardless of how one thinks about Mr. Ender's infrastructure and gridlock arguments, the bottom line is that Airbus appears to be serious about delivering on an old dream, and this story therefore may be the beginning of a long development in this century. It's one to watch.

See you on the flip side...

21 thoughts on “AIRBUS’ FLYING CAR”

  1. Again,
    The Future Is/Coming Here
    It just won’y be evenly distributed.

    Mom, look up in the air,
    It’s the Filthy Rich
    and they’ screaming on those real HIGHways
    Look Out Below!
    Bombs Away!

    And it still smells to high heaven!

  2. If Seth was right and we can choose to reincarnate into any timeline, I’ll choose one where the combustion engine is yet to be invented, and I should like to live on a farm and make a living selling dairy and spun wool.

    1. Not me. We live in the greatest era of human history and have never had it better. If it wasn’t for yester years beast mentality still ruling over us and abusing today’s technology we could be experiencing Heaven on Earth conditions right now. I guarantee there already exists a cure for cancer and all viral diseases but the beasts among us are hoarding these break throughs for themselves.

      1. “We live in the greatest era of human history” – perhaps the same thing was said by those of the previous civilisation prior to its demise.

        In my opinion Roger, the brute is innate in humans, and we should not be in possession of any form of high technology. At best, we are more suitable to live an 18th century life, with little hierarchy, and strong spiritual guidance – world-wide.

  3. I, too, remember all the stories about flying cars (and the Jetson’s), and there have indeed been functional models. Unfortunately, unless they are helicopters, they will still need runways, hangers, etc., and those are still expensive.

    Also, having taken ground school and knowing a little bit about flying, I think it is a ridiculous idea. Most people can’t master traveling safely and sanely in 2 dimensions: add in a third, with all the air currents, crosswinds, etc., involved, and you would have a guaranteed disaster on your hands.

    Think about it, they way most people drive, would you really want them flying around over your house?

    Then there’s navigation, air traffic control, and so on.

    And if you think “self-flying ” cars are the answer, you’d better hope Microsoft and Google aren’t in charge of that – it will give a whole new meaning to “computer crash.”

    Not to mention an even further destruction of privacy. Now, anybody with their flying car can go anywhere. I can just see how what little natural scenery we have will be totally destroyed by morons with heavy subwoofers prowling the skies.

    No, thank you.

    Frankly, I’d prefer a T.A.R.D.I.S.

    1. How did you know I was day dreaming of flying up and over and through the many valleys of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in my Sky Racer blasting AC/DC’s I’m on the highway to hell on my way to picnic on top of my favorite mountain bald?

  4. Small aerocars… will they turn out to be “driverless”?
    And by the way do you remember those spaceports being built? Will they emerge as a part of the new infrastructures schemes?

  5. Things with buzzing propellers and such are way too primitive to be handled realistically in dense urban settings. This is like Amazon’s cracked idea of delivering packages with drones and dropping them on peoples lawns. It’s just idle day-dreaming to make these companies look “with it.” Then let’s consider the noise pollution of aerial cars stacked up over an urban setting and what happens when an area is socked in with nasty weather that prohibits aerial maneuvering.
    Now let me know when anti-gravity cars are available – then we can talk.

  6. TCAS Terminal Collision Avoidance System, WAAS WiDe Area Augmentation Systems, GPS and other basic automation systems are already deployed or under development.

  7. We have enough trouble with surface transportation road kill already imagine multi-pile crash above and all that debris falling on our heads. Also another way of throwing us useless eaters on to the rubbish pile by denial of public services they’re rotten already.

  8. They can sell their corporate/government controlled and authorized self flying and driving versions designed to control and limit access to travel, while smaller companies can design and sell manually driven and flown versions. I know which one I would buy. People will never submit to these people’s paranoid control freak agendas and they will lose everything trying to make us.

  9. Considering the trillion dollar infrastructure project now being bandied about with the arrival of the Trump administration, the question we might want to ask: was Trump put up by those charming guys from NY and NJ whose names usually end in vowels and who have a lockdown on the concrete industry from the east coast to the west coast?

  10. The guys in the concrete business certainly won’t be happy with this idea and considering they probably have ties to President Trump through the casino industry, they may have have to persuade the new President not go down the flying car path, unless it is going to involve elevated concrete structures to direct flying traffic and centralized hubs for shipping cargo (and skimming that merchandise that always seems to fall off commercial vehicles during transit). Trump may just wind up with a bloody horse’s head (with a horn nailed on to look like a unicorn) in the Lincoln bedroom and the Airbus CEO could end up taking a concrete nap like Jimmy Hoffa, if they are not careful.

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