When Cars Fly – The Atlantic

Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The F 015 design is sleek and beautiful—it looks like a silver bullet—but style may become passé in future cars. Autonomous cars work best as fleets rather than as private property, because a car that can drive itself can be put to use even when you aren’t in it, and the tech companies making them prefer to sell services rather than products. Eventually, car ownership could become a thing of the past.

That would mean an end to the pride and personalization of owning a car. Not to mention living with one. Perhaps the garage, that great cornerstone of suburban architecture, will become a relic. Likewise parking spaces and lots, freeing up valuable real estate for greener and denser urban living. (Meanwhile, the exurbs could prosper if people no longer dread a long drive to work.) Your children might give as little thought to the kind of car they ride in as you do to the brand of subway train you take.

As idyllic as it might seem not to have to finance, drive, or park a car, there will be downsides. Once autonomous vehicles are everywhere, letting humans share the roads as pedestrians, bicyclists, or drivers could be seen as too dangerous. Driving conventions like traffic lights and dedicated turn lanes could become obsolete, and transit could develop into a pretzled web of robotics that no human brain can navigate.

5. Where Are the Flying Cars?

Flying cars have been part of our science-fiction dreams ever since Henry Ford pitched an early personal airplane back in 1926—Ford’s aircraft division actually tried to build a “Model T of the air.” Ninety years later, discarded prototypes litter junkyards and collectors’ garages, but no viable mass-market product has ever emerged.

That might still change. The latest candidates include Skycar, a flying-car prototype, and the Ehang 184, an autonomous electric quadcopter introduced at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas. In 2013, a company called Terrafugia announced plans for a self-flying car; it expects to have a prototype ready for testing by 2018. A commercial model will take at least another five years.

When they do arrive, flying cars will likely cost at least several hundred thousand dollars. They may replace the Lamborghini or the Bentley as the status car of the super rich. But for most of us they’ll remain a dream, even if not a science-fiction one.


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