The flying car, which once existed only in science fiction, continues to move closer to reality.
Several companies are actively engaged in research and development to bring flying cars and passenger drones to market. When combined with the race to bring self-driving cars, and the advancements in hybrids, especially EVs, this race to market indicates that the promised “future” of automotive technology is perhaps close to happening.
One of the more recent announcements concerning flying cars came from Uber Technologies. The ride-sharing company outlined their vision for operating a fleet of flying cars in February and followed up with a recent announcement concerning agreements reached with Dallas and Dubai.
Uber’s initiative is called Uber Elevate. In order to achieve its goal the company has hired Mark Moore, a NASA aircraft engineer, and entered into agreements with Bell Helicopter, Mooney International, Aurora Flight Sciences, and Embraer. The company has also reached agreements with real estate firms in Dallas and Dubai to select sites and construct take-off and landing ports. Uber has set 2020 as their goal for testing the vehicles.
Uber faces a number of problems in achieving this goal outside of the technical aspects. Uber continues to face lawsuits and increased scrutiny due to the company’s business methods and corporate culture. The company is also facing a lawsuit from Google parent company Alphabet Inc. alleging document theft involving Google’s self-driving car project. Uber also continues to lose money despite rapid growth.
Uber is basically facing Alphabet on two fronts, the courtroom and the marketplace. The company’s CEO Larry Page has provided funding for two flying car projects and rumour has it that he may be involved in others. Page’s two companies are Kitty Hawk and Zee.Aero, startups that are attempting to build personal aircraft. Kitty Hawk has showcased their progress by posting a video of one model over a lake carrying a passenger who rides the vehicle like a motorcycle.
Airbus is working on several prototypes as well as is China’s EHang, which is working with the Dubai government to develop closed-top passenger drones for the city.
With all of this high tech development ongoing, it might not be long till you can sell my car and fly your daily commute!