Flying cars? Still far from reality

In recent months, we have been reading more and more about developments related to flying cars, and in fact, Japan is planned to allow the use of such vehicles to some extent from 2023 onwards. At the same time, many are skeptical and the proliferation of flying cars in the near future looks a bit like that of self-driving cars: a nice idea, but far from reality.

Above all, it must not be forgotten that airspace is and must remain a highly regulated environment. And separating passenger vehicles, freight drones, conventional planes, helicopters and other air passers-by (commonly known as birds of all sizes and heights) is not an easy task.

The name flying car, by the way, is a difficult matter: basically, one would call a flying car one that can travel both on the road and in the air. That is, if the wings of a small airplane are folded up to fit in a lane, is it already a flying car? The concepts seen so far look much more like tiny helicopters than vehicles suitable for road transport.

Today, air traffic is controlled by direct communication between the pilot and the control tower. This is still a fundamentally manual process, and various automated systems are more of a warning than a problem rather than an avoidance. Even the partial automation of this process would be a major step forward in the world of the “Internet of Things”, in which all flying objects would be connected to one system and problems would be avoided by continuous communication with each other. This is far from the reality for the time being, especially when we consider how many vehicles would have to be moved to the sky to relieve the load on the roads.

And what if something goes wrong? Most accidents on public roads involve a few passengers, possibly one or two pedestrians, and mostly result in injuries, not death. But for a flying car? Passengers in a crashing vehicle can’t expect much good, let alone those they “arrive at”.

Interestingly, most of the concepts presented envision the electric car of the future as an electric-powered vehicle. Of course, in the midst of today’s electric car mania, all of this isn’t surprising, but it’s quite unlikely unless we’re planning trips of a few minutes.

To see the proportions: A Tesla’s battery weighs 600kg, allowing 5 passengers to travel with it for 3-4 hours without recharging. A helicopter takes off with a maximum weight of up to 1,500 kg, of which about 350 kg is a resource for a distance similar to a Tesla 3-4-hour journey, and as the distance increases, so does its weight and thus the amount of fuel used. Tesla’s battery weighs 600 pounds even if we can’t do a meter with it anymore. That is, if these flying cars were truly electric-powered, they are unlikely to be able to cover at least 50 miles without charging.

So overall, while the technology is undoubtedly at the gate at some level, there are too many barriers to the proliferation of flying cars. . At the moment, even using a simple drone, we have to go through a complicated licensing process if we want to use it completely legally, it’s hard to imagine that flying cars can only fly freely.

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