Flying Cars: How Soon?

I would like to start a discussion about flying cars. I saw this article on Instapundit.com about Bell producing a model using six tilted fans.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/7/18168814/bell-air-taxi-nexus-uber-flying-car-hybrid-ces-2019

What do you think the flying car will look like?

What power will it use?

How soon?

Will they have pilots or fly themselves?

My guess is that they will be electrically powered and look like drones. I think we will see some in the next five years. I think they will be without pilots in order to be economical.

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9 thoughts on “Flying Cars: How Soon?”

  1. In a world where those leftists who are not trying to ban cars altogether are trying to force our cars to get 50 miles per gallon, how can something succeed that probably gets at best 10 miles per gallon?

    If it is allowed to exist, it will be the short range equivalent of a private jet. Only people substantially better than you get to use it.

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  2. ctlaw:
    In a world where those leftists who are not trying to ban cars altogether are trying to force our cars to get 50 miles per gallon, how can something succeed that probably gets at best 10 miles per gallon?

    If it is allowed to exist, it will be the short range equivalent of a private jet. Only people substantially better than you get to use it.

    I think it would replace a helicopter service in a big city.

    If they can make it electric that would make it quiet and get around the carbon emissions on the flying car. (Of course there will be emissions to create the electricity.)

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  3. 10 Cents:
    If they can make it electric that would make it quiet and get around the carbon emissions on the flying car. (Of course there will be emissions to create the electricity.)

    The action of the blades probably makes more noise than the engine.

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  4. Kripes, now not only will we need cameras, both front and rear view, for the idiots on the roads, but we will need upper view cameras for the idiots in the sky falling on earth bound vehicles!

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  5. Gerry D:
    Kripes, now not only will we need cameras, both front and rear view, for the idiots on the roads, but we will need upper view cameras for the idiots in the sky falling on earth bound vehicles!

    Would you put an X on your truck, Gerry? I don’t want to bomb the wrong truck.

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  6. The buzzword for this is “urban air mobility”.  There are at least a dozen companies working on projects in this area, and some are at the stage of prototype testing.  Here is an article from GeekWire from November 2018 with a summary of the field which includes links to a few of the players.

    NASA has announced a Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge, modeled on the DARPA Grand Challenges which bootstrapped self-driving vehicle technology.  It held its first informational Industry Day on 2018-11-01.

    Most of the designs are for electric (or, in some cases, hybrid) vertical takeoff and landing vehicles which can operate from small “vertiports” on the top of buildings or parking-lot sized areas with minimal infrastructure support.  Some have the ability to transition to faster wing-supported flight to increase speed and range, while other are similar to quadcopter UAVs.   All have the ability to land safely following the failure of any single component (and some have greater redundancy than this).

    Most of the designs are intended for eventual autonomous operation once an air traffic control system is designed and put in place to handle deconfliction and flight planning, but all will probably require a human “safety pilot” in the initial testing phase.

    Noise is a major consideration, and electric operation dramatically reduces noise compared to turbine power (a turbine helicopter makes quite a racket even before the rotors start to spin).  Putting vertiports at the top of tall buildings may reduce noise at ground level.

    Uber claims it will start testing its service in Dubai, Dallas-Forth Worth, and Los Angeles in 2020.

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  7. John Walker:
    The buzzword for this is “urban air mobility”.  There are at least a dozen companies working on projects in this area, and some are at the stage of prototype testing.  Here is an article from GeekWire from November 2018 with a summary of the field which includes links to a few of the players.

    NASA has announced a Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenge, modeled on the DARPA Grand Challenges which bootstrapped self-driving vehicle technology.  It held its first informational Industry Day on 2018-11-01.

    Most of the designs are for electric (or, in some cases, hybrid) vertical takeoff and landing vehicles which can operate from small “vertiports” on the top of buildings or parking-lot sized areas with minimal infrastructure support.  Some have the ability to transition to faster wing-supported flight to increase speed and range, while other are similar to quadcopter UAVs.   All have the ability to land safely following the failure of any single component (and some have greater redundancy than this).

    Most of the designs are intended for eventual autonomous operation once an air traffic control system is designed and put in place to handle deconfliction and flight planning, but all will probably require a human “safety pilot” in the initial testing phase.

    Noise is a major consideration, and electric operation dramatically reduces noise compared to turbine power (a turbine helicopter makes quite a racket even before the rotors start to spin).  Putting vertiports at the top of tall buildings may reduce noise at ground level.

    Uber claims it will start testing its service in Dubai, Dallas-Forth Worth, and Los Angeles in 2020.

    How doable is this? Are we talking 10 years or 2?

    What are your best guesses on the final design? Quadcopter or transitioned winged flight?

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  8. 10 Cents:
    How doable is this? Are we talking 10 years or 2?

    Two years to prototype/pilot demonstration is entirely doable.  This will be licensed under some kind of experimental certification.  Actual entry into commercial service as a routine operation depends at least as much on regulation and air traffic control technology as anything relating to the vehicles.  The existing air traffic control model is completely inadequate to handle something like this.  You’ll need something much more like Internet packet routing, which is decentralised and involves intelligent vehicles communicating both ways to the traffic control system.  This is something we know how to do, but building a real-world system which is sufficiently bulletproof to entrust the lives of the general public to will take some time and moving down the learning curve.

    One advantage in deploying these systems is that with few exceptions (such as vertiports near or on the sites of conventional airports), the airspace in which these vehicles will operate is entirely outside that of conventional air traffic control (ATC).  This means you can develop a separate system for them without upgrading conventional ATC, which is something that happens on the scale of decades.  Current thinking about vertiports on conventional airports is to have dedicated “tunnels” outside conventional ATC in which the urban air mobility vehicles are confined.

    What are your best guesses on the final design? Quadcopter or transitioned winged flight?

    This depends on lots of things such as the intended market (length of average trips) and geeky details such as battery power density and recharge time.  It’s way too early to guess how this will sort out in the market.  It may be the case that the best solution for Singapore or Dubai, which are very dense and compact, and Los Angeles or Houston, which are spread out, are different.

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