The Future of Driving: Leaving the Ground
Will Flying Cars be a Reality Soon?
In the movie Back to the Future 2, Marty McFly has to travel to the future in order to save his future kids. When he gets to the year 2015, he discovers a host of crazy futuristic technologies that we still see as 30 years out (at least). One of the most amazing is the fact that most vehicle travel is done through the air.
We all know that we don’t have flying cars. But is it still a possibility? Or is it just a Jetsons-esque pipe dream that would be cool, but is actually totally impractical? Here’s what we know, and what we speculate on the future of flying cars.
The Weight Issue
When building any transportation machinery, weight is an issue. Over the years cars have become lighter and lighter, allowing them greater fuel economy and faster speeds. That same technology is being incorporated into VTOLs (Vertical Take Off and Landing Aircraft); the modern equivalent of a flying car.
When the weight issue has been addressed, we can move on to the power needed to propel a vehicle through the air.
The Engine Issue
Engines are big, inefficient, and noisy. At least that’s how they are at the moment. Over the last 50 years, the mechanics have been fine tuned to allow smaller and smaller engines that produce as much, or more, horsepower. There are many engines in the works that can fit in the palm of your hand, and generate 3-5 horsepower.
But getting a vehicle, laden with people, off the ground is much more than a few horsepower. We have concepts of flying cars now; most of them closer to the idea of a helicopter than a Jetson car. When engines are smaller and stronger, then we can move on.
The Safety Issue
If you blow a tire, or your engine seizes, or literally anything troublesome happens in your vehicle, you can simply pull over to the side of the road. If you’re flying a car, you literally plummet to your death. And likely, it won’t just be you crashing into the ground. A flying car has a much higher probability of smashing through a roof, into a crowd, or countless other tragic areas.
And that’s just if something goes wrong. Imagine the skies being just as clustered as our roads. Imagine people veering out of their “lane” and into the path of an oncoming jet. It would be pandemonium to think that we could just take off and “drive” like we do now in our vehicles; the training alone would prevent many people from even being able to do so.
Even when flying cars are an everyday reality, they likely won’t be parked in our garages and taken out for an afternoon or evening flight. They will likely be more commercial and rescue oriented.
The Legal Issue
That leads us into our final issue: legal issues. There have been quite a few eccentric geniuses that have “invented” flying cars. There are a number of innovative companies that have created prototypes and concepts. The flying car is a reality… except for the legality of the whole thing.
If you have ever looked at the legality of driving, it’s pages upon pages of codes and laws. Now imagine the entire thing having to be re-written for sky cars… it’s not that it can’t be done, but rather it will take a long time.
The Future of Flying Cars
Here’s what we do know: flying cars exist and they look nothing like what the Jetsons or Back to the Future said they would look like. They’re here, and they’re going to happen.
We also know that flying cars aren’t going to be parked in garages where anyone can go for a joyride. In fact, most of them will probably be similar to a taxi, and most likely the entire flight will be automated to ensure the proper route is followed, and an emergency landing will happen with the slightest “hiccup” in the system.
It is also likely that for quite a while they will be used for emergency situations where road based travel is impossible. During disasters when supplies are needed, off-road rescues, and quicker access through congested areas.
As we work to being the best auto body repair shop in Billings, we know that eventually we may be working on flying cars. They have been promised to us many times over the years, and eventually we will get there.
In the meantime, if you wreck your land-car, give us a call at 406-259-6328 and we can schedule a time to do land-repairs.