The Days When Flying Cars Will Be The Main Vehicle Of A Sustainable World

Illustration by Maria Fonseca for Intelligenthq
Illustration by Maria Fonseca for Intelligenthq

Man has always dreamed of being able to fly. That inner human drive made human beings invent and develop air balloons, airplanes and other vehicles. The last frontier is the secret wish of many: to own a flying car.

Many of us secretly want a flying car which will be safe, silent and easy to pilot. Such a flying car would bring people more freedom. The flying car of the future would not be like the prototypes that we see on the news. These look like cars right now with the extra asset of wings that open and close to fly and the need of a pilot. These models are more like small planes than flying cars, and in my opinion they do not provide the sought after freedom.

 

The good news is that soon, the flying car that we dream will be in our hands. Take for example the small UAV drone’s technologies. Not the ones sent for war missions, but the ones that are used to make nice videos from the sky like the multi-copter ones. If you have had a chance to see these you can see that they are very easy to fly and with some practice there would be no need for a pilot. Without going into great detail most of them that reach quality standards and are equipped with an array of systems: fail-safe, vision positioning, auto stabilisation, a satellite oriented system, an intelligent power management (that makes sure that the power continues during the flight), and of course a fly map system that gives the option to define your fly plan with your smartphone and auto-landing management. There is no need to go into too much detail on the technical specifications, as you get the idea. Many other applications will emerge also to facilitate the use of these technologies by the general public. This will include security enhancement so that accidents are avoided and “sense and avoid” systems, as well as a general traffic integration system.

There are lots of questions to still be answered of course. For example, how will you gain the power, autonomy, and solve the regulation issues that will allow you to drive your flying car with other people in it? Well I believe this is just a question of time, maybe a couple of years. There is already work being carried out around the world on these matters.

In order to give you an image of what would look the flying car of tomorrow, I think we can refer to the “Fantasticar”, which is the car used by the fantastic four, as viewed in their last movies. Another possibility is the hover bike that could be a kind of flying motor bike or a speeder like, seen in “Star Wars” movies. It is likely that to achieve what is needed to bring flying cars into reality a joint venture will be needed between electric cars companies and the drones industry.

Flying cars and sustainability

Apart the fun side of the flying car, this development will represent a huge opportunity for change with regard to the sustainability goal that our societies have been struggling to achieve. When commuting transport is transferred from the road to the sky, it will free billions of square meters around the world that can be used for other purposes, like housing, culture, or to build a network of parks and green corridors for the wild side of nature. This would be helpful in being able to create a biodiversity equilibrium, and to allow living creatures to be able to migrate. It would mean that there would be more trees, reversing the greenhouse gas effect. In addition, in terms of mineral resources and building materials, billions of billions tones will become available. Today there is a big concern emerging over extraction of sand and over use of natural resources that are necessary for construction and infrastructure. This has had the negative impact of triggering erosion which in turn has led to the loss of proper land for farming and the destruction of natural environments of animals and plants. When cars become obsolete its recycling will also provide huge quantities of materials that can be reused in other ways and its becomes unnecessary to extract natural resources from the ground.

Will all the roads vanish? No, in the city the main road will be maintained or adapted. However it is likely that the highways will be dismantled. Sewers may also be replaced by small purification stations able to produce energy as well. It is likely  that traffic infrastructure outside the city will be recycled and redesigned. Some infrastructure will be incorporated into buildings, like the addition of landing sites on the top of buildings or a transformation of parking areas into temporary grounding. Vehicles will land at your destination, but will be sent automatically to the waiting area where they would eventually charge their batteries while awaiting your signal to pick you up again. Landing areas may also exist in the air.

There are some big milestones to reach before we will see this type of car flying in our skies, but do not be surprised if you see them earlier than you thought you would. Ten years ago in 2004, I remember listening to people debating the topic of electrics cars, where most of them would have argued that it would never work. Today, all the postmen in my city use electric scooters and electric cars are used on a daily basis more and more by many companies. Today in my city, we no longer debate the efficiency of those electric cars.

So now, every time you see a small UAV drone or hear about small UAV drone stories, you may have a different perception of them.