1) Introduction to Flying Cars
1.1) What is a flying car?
A flying car is simply a personal air vehicle that provides users with transportation services by both ground and air. There are many prototypes that demonstrate how a flying car would look like and how it would work if it is commercialized. Ever since cars were created, engineers and designers were eager to make these cars or at least hovers above the ground. Users alike have dreamed of having cars that can fly and travel vast distances in short periods of time. That’s why the term “flying car” is still relevant to this day. Thanks to modern technology, it is safe to say that this dream may come true hopefully in the near future.
1.2) Examples of flying cars
As stated before, there have been actually many prototypes of flying cars. Here are some examples:
- Terrafugia Transition: Terrafugia Transition was created in 2009 and it had its second successful test flight in 2012. It has a shape similar to a plane in order to help it fly. Similar to any flying car, it can provide transportation in the air and on the ground. While on the ground its speed can reach up to 110 Km per hour and on the air it can reach up to 185 Km per hour. However, Terrafugia had its own problem which was its weight. The weight of this flying car including all the extra parts and safety components was too heavy to comply with FAA regulations.
- PAL-V One: the PAL-V One is a Dutch invention, it only has one engine and the power is automatically switched between the tires and the propeller depending on whether or not it is making contact with the ground. This flying car can fly below a distance of 1200 meters.
2) The process of making flying cars
There are three major steps and stages into designing and creating a flying car. These stages are as below:
A practical flying car should be able to safely take off, fly and land throughout heavily populated urban environments. In order to produce such an aircraft, and in order to avoid noise complaints and other noise related problems, its propulsion system should be quiet. It should also contain non-exposed rotors so that it could be flown safely in urban environments.
In addition to all of that, for a flying car to become airborne, it would require very powerful engines which would create huge and concentrated downdrafts; however, it is a bad idea to use such a technology in an urban environment, because it is generally very noisy.
The next step in creating a flying car is to talk about the cost and the money requirements for preparing a flying vehicle. Since it requires a propulsion that is both small and powerful and an energy efficiency that is much lower compared to a conventional car or an aircraft, it is estimated that the cost of producing a single flying car would be very high and would cost as much as 10 million dollars.
2.3) Safety checks
The final step in creating a flying car is to make it as safe as possible. Statistically speaking, flying an airplane is safe than driving; however, unlike commercial airplanes, drivers of personal flying vehicles are not as talented as commercial plane drivers. This makes driving a flying car not as safe as simply driving a car on land. Of course, this problem can be solved if flying cars include a self-driving mod.
3) Advantages and challenges of having flying cars
Similar to any technology, flying cars have their own advantages and disadvantages, here are the pros and cons of using flying cars and vehicles:
3.1) Advantages of flying cars
- Flying vehicles can basically take you everywhere since they can fly without having to follow street signs and street lights.
- Using flying cars is time-saving since it can often fly directly rather than following roads. In other words, flying devices and vehicles do not get stuck in traffic jams or road related problems (such as road maintenance or construction work).
3.2) Challenges of flying cars
- Obviously, since a flying vehicle flies in the air, it requires a pilot. Thus, it requires a flying license and other legal documentation and regulations.
- Its price is going to be pretty expensive, and most people will not be able to afford, not to mention other costs such as maintenance and fuel.
- Since it is a flying vehicle, it requires to land and take-off on an airport, this can be disadvantageous depending on the location of the airport not to mention it requires a gate code in order to land or park.
- Flying cars require airports, whereas, there are many towns in the world that do not have an airport. This may cause more time for a flying vehicle or even a plane to get to its destination than land vehicles.
- The transition from street to air mode may take substantial time, thus affecting the total trip time.
- Weather will affect the ability of fly for flying cars; the weather might prohibit flying in case of heavy rain or extreme winds as opposed to land cars.
- Flying car accidents may be fatal, and much more dangerous than regular land car accidents since even the slightest of errors in the design or simply the motor may put the life of the pilot or driver in jeopardy.
Flying cars or flying vehicles may have their own share of challenges and disadvantages but they are a relatively new technology. This means that in the near future, they are still in development and have great potential. In 2018, the driving app and company Uber declared that they were working with NASA to create a flying car that could be safe and efficient in package delivering and carrying passengers similar to an aerial taxi.