When I think of flying cars, the first picture conjured up is the sketchy, pedophilic man passing out candy in hopes of stealing children in the 1968 classic movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
Strange film scenes aside, our associations with flying cars are all related to the make-believe, a lofty childhood fantasy.
Airbus, the world’s leading producer of commercial helicopters, wants to make this seemingly unlikely pipe dream a reality.
The company is taking to the airways and hopes to crank out a prototype for a self-piloted flying car by the end of 2017, according to Reuters.
This car will be manufactured for urban air spaces in order to reduce pollution and pileups on busy roads.
Goodbye, UberPool. Hello, non-existent air traffic.
Not to sound cliché, but as it stands, the sky is such a pretty place. Whether you’re in a city or a remote Indiana township, the sky, a visual reminder of nature in our oftentimes too cluttered digital world, is always there to greet you.
Add flying cars to the mix and you’ve got yourself far bigger problems than sneaky pigeons and overcast rain clouds.
Think about zoning laws.
In my Connecticut commuter hometown we can’t even put up a neon sign, not to mention have zooming vehicles flying in our midst.
Although it’s being designed for more urban landscapes, I’m assuming skyscrapers would pose a threat to air travel as well.
Airbus CEO Tom Enders said at Munich’s Digital Life Design conference, “One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground.”
It seems as though taking the automotive industry to the skies was always on Enders’ agenda, hence the name Airbus.
Either that or he had a childhood crush on Miss Frizzle.
Although this development sounds out of this world, the creation of aerial transport for the everyday man would present a huge shakeup to both car businesses and manufacturers across the country.
It’s not going to be enough to sell self-driving, all-electric smart cars.
People are inevitably going to want to get their flying license and take to the air.
Slate’s Henry Grabar has his reservations about the whole ordeal as well.
In his article, “Beware the Man With the Flying Car,” he writes, “It is to choppers, not to cars, that they should be compared. The question is not if we can take a cheap, everyday product and make it fly, but if we can take a big, loud, expensive, relatively dangerous, pain-in-the-ass flying machine and make it cheap, quiet, and safe.”
Currently, there are more questions than answers.
We have no plans for controlling air traffic, midair rest stops, or vertical zoning laws.
Figuring out the best way to safely access the sky is no easy task.
Only time will give us the answers.
By the time I’m thirty, maybe I’ll be flying to work in an air taxi.
In a world full of pizza-delivering drones, household robots and shoes that can tie themselves, anything is possible.
This article was originally published as a column for the Indiana Daily Student on 20 January 2017.