05 September 2016

Bloomberg: “Welcome to Larry Page’s Secret Flying Car Factories”

Flying cars, of course, are ridiculous. Lone-wolf inventors have tried to build them for decades, with little to show for their efforts besides disappointed investors and depleted bank accounts. Those failures have done little to lessen the yearning: In the nerd hierarchy of needs, the flying car is up there with downloadable brains and a working holodeck.

But better materials, autonomous navigation systems, and other technical advances have convinced a growing body of smart, wealthy, and apparently serious people that within the next few years we’ll have a self-flying car that takes off and lands vertically—or at least a small, electric, mostly autonomous commuter plane. About a dozen companies around the world, including startups and giant aerospace manufacturers, are working on prototypes. Furthest along, it appears, are the companies Page is quietly funding. Over the past five years, there have been these tremendous advances in the underlying technology, says Mark Moore, an aeronautical engineer who’s spent his career designing advanced aircraft at NASA. What appears in the next 5 to 10 years will be incredible.

Ashlee Vance & Brad Stone

Extensive coverage of many competing efforts to crack to complicated problem of building a viable flying car. Despite the expected technological advances, I remain very skeptical. Even if the engineering challenges are solved, I think public acceptance of flying cars will go much slower than autonomous cars because it requires a larger change in culture and social habits. A suitable infrastructure would need to be built as well, since flying cars would probably not be able to park in regular parking lots or fuel at regular gas stations. A time horizon of 10 years seems overly optimistic – if they don’t fail completely I think 25 years is more realistic.

Lilium Jet Germany

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