The idea of flying cars has caught the fascination of drivers, pilots, and science fiction fans for decades. But, are they an impossibility? Or, do they exist?
Remember the Jetson’s flying car in the introduction of the cartoon, The Jetsons? That flying car could transport the whole family and fold into a briefcase when not in use. That little flying car was a manifestation of what was in people’s imaginations already for many years prior. In fact, actual attempts to create flying vehicles date back to 1942.
Today, a search for Do Flying Cars Exist will yield a treasure trove of videos with different types of flying cars that have existed, currently exist, or are in development. Many of them claim to be the first. Obviously, the topic of flying cars is a point of interest amongst manufacturers, even if they can’t agree who is really first.
There are also a lot of prototypes that have been introduced in recent years that show a shift away from the traditional concept of a flying car. That shift has involved introductions of vehicles with VTOL, vertically take off or landing capability. Another element in the shift away from the traditional concept of flying cars are personal jet packs that can be used to fly a person, unfettered, from point A to point B. Lastly, the concept of personal hoverpods has also debuted on the scene and nibbled away at the traditional flying car idea.
The Traditional Flying Car
In the past, the mention of a flying car would bring up ideas of cars that have normal road controls, and folding wings. The driver would take the vehicle to an available airstrip, or field, and then unfold the wings and take off. But, that is impractical because everybody does not have a nearby suitable airstrip available, and a pilot’s license is needed.
Vertical Take Or Landing
Manufacturers have realized that the lack of available airstrips and the need to have pilot’s licenses have limited their reach. So, attempts have been made to offer alternatives. Personal flying cars have been introduced that are VTOL in nature. So, the need for an airstrip is not necessarily a limitation any more. A license still might be, though. However, it is conceivable that a VTOL car could use any parking lot that does not have power lines or poles running near them as a suitable take-off or landing location.
Personal Jet Packs
Personal Jet Packs were tested by the military decades ago. In recent years, the concept has been revisited by start-ups and the military alike because technology has made the bulky masses of equipment more compact and more affordable. The idea is that a user would strap on a backpack with a jet pack, multiple jet packs, and take off. The user could go anywhere without needing a pilot’s license.
The hoverpods are a relatively new aspect of the flying car idea. These are likened to large drone-like, prop-driven, vehicles that may or may not have an enclosure for the user. Hyundai, NASA, and even Uber are looking into this avenue to make personal flying machines, or even flying taxi’s a viable option.
In the past, flying cars have been considered an impossibility. But, that has only challenged engineers. The end result is that today, flying cars are real. The available types of them have even grown. In some cases, the cars are available now, not just promised for the future. It’s an exciting industry to watch. Maybe we will one day see it develop that Jetson flying car, briefcase, transformer.