Where's my flying car?
That's the rhetorical question people have been asking for decades as a symbol of forsaken futurism. Whether your expectations were raised by the Jetsons cartoon show in the 60s, the sci-fi classic film Bladerunner in the 80s or by so many broken promises since, it's easy to have become cynical about the flying car.
But in the past week's news, tangible glimmers of hope have emerged hinting that the eternal wait might end before eternity. A smorgasbord of developments portends tangible progress, some of which is expected to occur soon.
InputMag.com is reporting that "an eVTOL company called Alauda plans to launch Airspeeder, the world's first racing series for electric flying cars, starting later this year. The company recently announced new hires from the likes of Boeing and Renault F1 who will help advance the development of vehicles in the rapidly emerging space. (eVTOL refers to any type of aircraft that takes off and lands vertically using electric or hybrid-electric propulsion.)
"Some big names have invested in flying vehicle concepts in recent years, including Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, as well as LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, who recently announced he will help take flying taxi startup Joby Aviation public with plans to raise $1.6 billion."
In Miami, "Electric aircraft maker Archer announced plans on Tuesday to launch a network of flying taxis throughout Miami by 2024, just weeks after signing a similar deal with the city of Los Angeles," reports the website www.statescoop.com.
"Archer's aircraft are designed to take off and land vertically, limiting the space necessary to operate an aerial taxi service in dense urban areas. The company claimed its planes can travel as far as 60 miles at 150 mph, evidently enticing Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
"We know that infrastructure and transportation solutions in Southern Florida must change over the next decade to curb carbon emissions, decrease traffic, and create the multimodal transportation networks of the future," Suarez said in a press release. "The City of Miami is dedicated to collaborating with Archer to build one of America's first UAM networks and work towards overcoming the geographical challenges of our water-locked areas currently only accessible via congested roadways."
Chicago, New York and San Francisco are among other U.S. cities reportedly in line for some form of air-taxi service. But as with most transportation technology, the larger hopes are overseas.
German aircraft manufacturer Volocopter has raised €200m ($239 million) of new capital toward certification of its battery-powered VoloCity air taxi as part of its plan to accelerate the launch of its first commercial route reports Aerospace-Technology.com.
The website quoted Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter as boasting his company is ahead of the curve in the industry. "No other electric air taxi company has publicly performed as many flights in cities around the world, with full regulatory approval, as Volocopter has. Our VoloCity is the fifth generation of Volocopter aircraft and has a strong path to being the first certified electric air taxi for cities."
In another development, Mashable reported that the "Slovak engineering company Aeromobile successfully completed its latest flight testing for its flying car. The car has been in development for over a decade but is expected to become commercially available by 2023."
That news prompted the syndicated newsmagazine Inside Edition to wonder, "Are we closer to having flying cars than we think?"
One needn't be a cynic to note that the answer to that has been a resounding "no" for decades, but the site is reporting that "AeroMobil has been flight-testing since September 2020 and is working towards certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency. They say they're also going after equivalent certifications from the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States."
Some recent accounts refreshed previous developments.
At Bloomberg.com, a piece this week touted the hope presented by a law passed last year by the New Hampshire state legislature.
"At this juncture, there's arguably just one place left where belief in the roadable aircraft is still sky-high: New Hampshire, which last year became the first U.S. state to make flying cars road-legal. Per House Bill 1182, also known as the Jetsons Bill, roadable aircraft require no inspection. So long as the machines pass muster with the Federal Aviation Administration and their owners pay a $2,000 registration fee, their pilots can drive them to an airport on public roads, then take off in them.
"Laurie Garrow, an urban and regional air mobility specialist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, says the "Jetsons bill" positions New Hampshire to become an industry leader. "I can see a lot of developers going there to test roadable aircraft," she says, in part because they could find plenty of routes with minimal traffic."
Also, there's this from Bloomberg:
"Morgan Stanley has predicted the eVTOL industry could reach $1.5 trillion by 2040. Last year, Toyota invested $394 million in eVTOL company Joby Aviation and Uber just invested $75 million in Joby, which plans to go public in a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Reinvent Technology Partners.
Bloomberg says one of the leading companies, Chinese-owned Terrafugia,
'has signed an agreement with another Chinese holding company, Tencent, to develop smart cockpits along with self-driving cars. Meanwhile, the skies above the Netherlands, Spain and the U.K. could soon be buzzing with eVTOLs. A consortium of companies and municipalities plans to stage 100 hours of test flights over Europe by late 2022."
All that said, there's still a place for healthy skepticism. Lest one get too giddy, there's always some experts around to remind us that we've heard It all before. Here's Matt Novak, an editor at www.Gizmodo.com:
"Did you see the headlines this week promising that AeroMobil would be making flying cars available for purchase in 2023? That's just two years from now, if you can believe it. The company's latest video even ends with the optimistic words, "coming 2023." But can they pull it off? Let's just say we've been hearing that their flying cars are just "two years away" for a very long time."
Novak goes on to dissemble the unlikeliness of it all. But nearly six decades after the Jetsons, why not dream?
For that, there's this:
Top 8 New Flying Cars and Air Taxis - Best Personal Aircraft ▶️ 3 www.youtube.com