The US should be trying to copy Japan and make an effort to benefit everyone, instead of creating expensive transportation alternatives that only very few will be able to take advantage of and won't solve any real problems except for those people. (I know, US <> Boeing)
Compare it to Lisbon (where I live): some five or six different systems to serve less than 2 million people. Disheveled, impossible to coordinate. Dense coverage in the city centre and sparse where people actually live, so masses of cars go into the centre every day. Gridlock and pollution everywhere. And the systems we have are considered good!
I'll gladly join the chorus calling Tokyo the future. Can't come soon enough.
A classmate of mine who visited Amsterdam in the 80's described his experience like this: People seemed to hang out in different neighborhoods based on what "type" they appeared to be. The police might spot you being "out of place" and guide you back to where you were "supposed" to be. Essentially, they would do a friendly "deportation" of you to the right neighborhood.
I think all cities have something like this going on, to one extent or another: subdivision into different sub-cities.
The only thing the US should copy Japan on is long distance high-speed rail. The rest can be taken care of by electric buses + a lot of dedicated bus lanes, modest light rail investment and NY fixing its subway. The US doesn't actually need a radical makeover. A large expansion of dedicated bus lanes would fix 3/4 of the problem in nearly all US cities and would be very cost effective. Autonomous electric buses can provide a high volume solution that matches with the modest population size of most US cities.
Within 15-20 years the US is going to reach zero population growth (and the growth rate will be close to zero for much of that time). Shortly thereafter the US population will begin falling permanently. It doesn't need to explode its budgets building unnecessary transportation systems based on copying one of the world's most dense cities for absolutely no good reason.
Previously on HN https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16602151
We can't get our mayor de Blasio to commit to prevent people from stopping on the bus lane in the city (NYC). For example, in Jamaica, I would guess there is a bus every two minutes each way (peak) at Sutphin Blvd Hillside Avenue intersection. It isn't a particularly busy intersection, just an example.
Not just that there are cars parked in the bus lane, there are trucks unloading goods for the shops there, double parked.
The state of NJ says it is unlawful to idle your car for over three minutes. I've never seen anyone follow this rule. We might as well get rid of laws without enforcement. Who are we kidding?
Making a bus lane without enforcement is just wasting money to paint a lane. How do we enforce it? The only way I see viable is to allow bus drivers to write tickets to anyone blocking them (even for thirty seconds) in a bus lane (buses should definitely be equipped with multiple dash cams) and give the bus drivers the ticket money.
I'm not criticizing public transit here (I'm a big believer in light rail) but your quote sounds like something out of left field.
Edit: Turns out I was sort of close, a politician in Colombia said it.
Why are you asking "who?" Literally the first google result: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/879556-a-developed-country-...
> I'm having a hard time imagining people ... saying that
And that's a problem. A failure of imagination and/or policy.
and you do have high profile politicians or celebrities in european cities (i only know examples from europe though) using public transport or riding bikes to get around.
Thinking that the model of medium-sized, developed European cities is going to work worldwide, when populations are only getting more concentrated and urban, is pretty naive.
Both have excellent public transport.
LA's problem is roads, it's also one of the reasons LA became the bank robber capital of the world based on reading A Burglar's Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh
Flying mid-range vehicles linking park-and-rides with city centers, or neighborhood-to-neighborhood, makes more sense to me than expanding the existing congestion upward.
Any "solution" that involves a passenger vehicle is an improvement of a critically flawed and failed paradigm and not a true sustainable solution.
If you wanted to use this for commuting, just add a front electric sustainer to it. By the time the sustainer turns on, the aircraft is already pretty high altitude.
It'd be just as quiet as a land vehicle due to the greater distance away from the hearer.
but yeah, helicopters are likely to be fairly loud.
Sailplanes wouldn't work for commuting because of, in order:
1. Difficulty of training
2. Pilot liability for accidents
4. Space required to take off and land
My expert opinion - for limited delivery applications sailplanes could work. You need to do it right - sample and model atmosphere from the vehicle and ground, use gravity to accelerate and decelerate to flying speed, complete automation to remove the pilot. It's not easy. But it is not impossible.
(Incidentally, if someone is willing to drop me ~500k in an attempt to build a prototype - I might consider investing the time required.)
By talking sailplanes, I didn't mean unpowered flight. Of course you need power, to counteract drag . I was primarily referring to a form-factor (clean, efficient and and silent like a sailplane) and to a mode of takeoff and landing (convert speed to altitude with a wing, instead of eVTOL).
I'm merely pointing out one method that would allow near-elimination of noise.
...and you can fly a sailplane at a younger age (13 for solo flight) than you can drive (usually 16). And driving has most of those concerns as well.
- flies in 3D space with pitch, roll, yaw
- has both MAX (Vne) and MIN (stall) speed, can't stop and wait
- can't even stop descending (!)
- HEAVILY influenced by wind and thermal conditions
- pretty unstable, oscillates when upset
- can not use ground as visual reference reliably
- flying one is no joke even for a human, requires serious training
Good luck with your full autopilot.
What pilots usually do during emergency is to go through the checklist. There is not much room for improvisation.
Vehicles - it is a completely different level of problem. If you try to drive with dGPS alone, you will collide almost immediately. Even on the empty road, because dGPS is not good enough. And actually, it is almost AGI-complete problem, as you need to model and interact with other traffic participants.
While it doesn't completely negate your argument...
How about a solution for a VTOL craft, like the Boeing vehicle? How about an airship with high speed winches, with smaller drones managing the ends of the cables? The cables could attach to aircraft that want to take off, which would be pulled up to a height where their rotor noise wouldn't be so annoying.
That said, they were also nick named "flying coffins".
re: winch tow - when I was an Air Cadet in canada as a teen, we used to fly in schweizer 2-33's and occasionally went up on the winch - it was absolutely exhilarating!
...I've flown a 2-33. It's not much better than the Waco! :)
Unfortunately, I haven't flown it with a winch.
For example: Elon has proposed a tunnel to Dodger stadium. However, the existing Union Station-Stadium shuttles can (and do) handle 10x the proposed Elontunnel's max daily capacity in about an hour or two depending on traffic.
I don't quite get the hate for Elon's tunnels. Let him and his team try and build them and see if they work. Super cheap tunneling would be great for so many things. That is, unless you think that humans have too much power and think we should regress back to some more primitive lifestyle. "Try to help make a future that you would like to live in." Traffic congestion sucks. It would be great to get rid of it. Cheap tunnels could be one way to help. Why stop people from trying?
He did start and still runs a company that makes reusable rockets. You have to try to do something before you know what is possible.
Transport investment is like planting a tree. The best time to build it is twenty years ago, and the second best time to do it is now. Elon has basically given cover to NIMBYs to hide behind a supposedly new amazing future solution that may never come.
Construction costs has not come down in price over time like many other things have. I think he hopes that the Boring Company can list a price/mile for tunneling that is much lower than current costs and let people actually budget them. Maybe sell these better machines to other construction companies at some point. He broke the cost-plus pricing for satellite launches. Just think what something like that for tunneling could do for transportation systems. Billion dollar overruns are on the digger not the public. That would be great.
The actual cost comes in station digging; stations need to be high throughput and extremely reliable, which favors complexes with a large footprint and thus more required property taking, usually in dense urban areas that require complicated engineering. For highway tunnels the similar cost factor are onramps and offramps; if you want a ramp to be safe and efficient at high speed you need a lot of space.
Hyperloop “solves” this problem by proposing elevators. Very few metro stations are elevator only because they are low throughput and are prone to mechanical failure, as opposed to staircases that are not.
An interesting writeup on the case study of the Second Avenue Subway: https://pedestrianobservations.com/2018/01/27/construction-c...
Ok. Give up I guess; bad idea.
No. Let's start with this one, fix the various problems that arise, discover how to make a good paved road with the least amount of labor and resources, and continue to expand the paved network to reach everywhere in the city.
This is what happened. Would you want to go back to unpaved roads in a city? Traffic congestion is killing American society. I like American society. Many people don't like to live all packed together but still want to work with other people and have the amenities that cities enable. Cars and interstate roads allowed that for a few decades but now we need a new system to continue expansion of the free flow and interaction of people. Underground roads could replace interstates and we could turn them into grand boulevards for pedestrians, bikes, and other slow vehicles. Wouldn't that be great? Almost all car traffic is underground. Would you support such an idea?
For example: Elon has proposed a tunnel to Dodger stadium.
Fixed wing airplanes are the worst flight alternative. The passenger capacity of a single hot air balloon far exceeds the passenger capacity of an airplane. For example: A Wright Flyer.
Sorry, but this is a bit strawmannish. You do realize it's a proof of concept project, right? It's not like the Falcon 1 disproves the capacity of all SpaceX rockets, ever.
Second even with a single passenger vehicle, a tunnel can move people over it’s full distance at the same time. Consider a bus moving people on a 5 minute trip vs 50 minute trip on the second case it’s got 1/10 the capacity.
Sure, a 3.5 mile tunnel adds little on it’s own. But, then again it’s also short.
While we're at it, optimizing for number of vehicles rather than number of passengers is a very...how do I put it...rich way of thinking about things. Which jibes very well with Elon Musk's whole thing: "mass transit is great so long as I don't have to see the poors."
donoteat01 does pretty fantastic video work about a number of urban planning topics and he's shot this one full of holes already. You should watch it if you're curious. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dn6ZVpJLxs
Why is that the case and can it be fixed? I would say that this problem would be easier to solve than the problem of getting a orbital class rocket booster to go into space, launch the second stage, and then return to the launch pad and land.
Musk likes to work from first principles to try and understand what is possible. What is the physics behind why you can't have a very full, steady stream of vehicles going through a tunnel? Nothing really. The vehicles just have to be very well controlled. With a good auto-vehicle you should be able to pack them in and have them enter and exit into the stream of traffic. Like a real road, only better. Why would you not want someone of Musk's caliber to not try to do this? My dad would rather have him working more on getting the automatic car working so he can continue commuting to work. I can understand that objection, but he says the Boring Company is only about 2-5% of his time. If you want something to happen you try and decide if it is possible, and then try and do it. Not spend you time figuring out how not to do it.
The rest of your post is weird heroification and I'd have to bleach myself after interacting with it, so I won't.
True, but a loading/unloading time of 30-60 seconds only means the tunnels are less feasible for short trips.
And we haven't even gotten into how a top speed of 140mph will burn the hell out of street tires.
It's just...dumb. It's not thought out. It's aggressively reality-averse. It's thought-leadery as hell.
People are super confused about this. The reporting wasn't very good and you have to look beyond it. The original idea is
- little 16 person passenger pods with bikes, wheelchairs, and luggage. $1 fare.
- possibly sleds for cars
- you can stack tunnels (think of them as car lanes in 3D), so you can have 20, 50 or 100 lane highways
- you make lane changes autonomously, so the subway pods can have different destinations
- it's all electric so there isn't poisonous engine exhaust
This is just people boarding a bus, the throughput is super high.
Even sled loading can be pretty fast, imagine replacing 20 street parking spots with sled elevators. Then accelerated to 100 mph, that too is a lot of throughput.
Here's the pod part of the Boring company talk. It's worth watching to see what they are proposing.
Elon and company got excited that they built a tunnel, which is a real achievement. So they drove a Tesla through it. The media knows what you want, which is max outrage, so they reported that the 1% will get tunnels with their Teslas. You will be stuck in gridlock behind a diesel truck.
They should not have driven a Tesla through it, it was a PR blunder.
Here is a Heathrow pod experiment: http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20140910-hands-off-with-heath...
The main issue with building tunnels is cost. Tunnels aren't cheap and are hard to scale because soil conditions are extremely local and you have to tailor boring machines to ground conditions. Egress points are expensive, especially in dense urban areas where property values are sky high. You could use elevators instead of stairs, but the problem is that elevators are low-throughput and unusable in the event of unreliability.
Even considering all that, Elon did build a tunnel, but the tunnel was quite short and also quite small. There's not really room for emergency ventilation, or egress walkways with exits or safety points every 300m, or really anything that modern fire codes would require. Once you add all that in the tunnel is not really narrower than a subway train, at which point you might as well build a subway train. And why not? The New York subway has a capacity of 60,000 people per hour per direction using signals from the 1930s. A highway lane only carries about 2,000 people per hour. And all of that's assuming your low-capacity elevator entry can handle all of that.
PRT just combines the inefficiency of the automobile with the cost of actually building transit. There is a reason that PRT experiments have never been replicated elsewhere at large scale.
Otoh here in Berlin we would benefit massively if we could live maybe up to 100km out of the city and travel fast and cleanly to, say, Tempelhof. Wenn have huge areas of land here where you can live a very nice life but work is in the city. Biking such distances is out of the question and roads and trains simply cannot connect all the places equally well.
Better to conserve land, nature and the environment than to destroy remaining areas where wildlife can thrive.
Now the countryside on the other hand is, at least here, partially empty. Population shrinks and villages collapse. The elderly live in deserted ghost towns. Existing infrastructure cannot maintained. This is not wild nature out there but rather a dystopia.
The problem is, maybe it can never be done cost effectively enough to make viable for everyone. I mean, we can't even make simple trains cheap: here in CA, it costs almost 250$ a month to BART back and forth
Per person? It’s hard to imagine a subway being more expensive than flying cars... even with the US’ ridiculous public works costs.
It’s not poor urban design, it’s geometry.
He probably shouldn't have driven a Tesla through it, the only message people got was that the 1% are going to have tunnels. Really you'd run autonomous buses and 4 person taxis through it. Easy to imagine it being much cheaper than public transit too.
You can plan all you want, but it's hard for planning to keep up with Dubai.
It's the same story of building bridges and super-highways, through the downtown because they "look good" and "let you put your name on it", without caring for the residents.
For transportation we need tunnels, not bridges.
And if you want something flying other the city - build a silent glider that uses only the energy of raising currents of air and gravity to accelerate for take off and decelerate to land. Or another silent vehicle. Not a stupid noisy flying car.
Sprawl occurs as a result of tax policy, transportation infrastructure, zoning, and other factors.
One could envision a version of LA with less vacant lots, less surface-level or curbside parking, less single-story fast food franchises, etc. One could envision an LA with an efficient transportation like Hong Kong.
It is completely possible to achieve livability with a high population and high density. Indeed, that generally will correlate with more cool stuff to do.
Reducing population would by no means necessarily lead to walkability or livability.
In fact, the ideal "public transportation" is a private vehicle, like this kind of a autonomous flying vehicle, which will transport you whenever and wherever you want. It's not a band-aid, it's solving the root cause. Public transportation is the band-aid, which cannot in practise solve the problem ideally.
Travel time is the wrong property to optimize for when we're looking at transportation and urban design. It's the mistake we've made in America for the last century.
We should be optimizing for quality of life and health. Optimizing for those things yields design like Copenhagen -- bike paths, walking paths, trains and busses for longer trips. It's quiet. It's energy efficiency. It's much better for our health. It encourages healthy social interaction and the feel of community.
Travel time is the correct property to optimize for my values. I don't want to spend unnecessary time in transit. That's a subjective value, of course.
You can optimize for quality of life, health and short travel times at the same time. Copenhagen might be a good target with current level of technology, not necessarily the technology of future.
I don't care for imposed social interaction due to public transportation. People don't really interact with strangers in public transportation anyway (in my culture that is).
You'll probably eat those words. Or maybe your grandchildren or great great grandchildren will.
The value of human time has been steadily going up for millennia. We used to have slaves build pyramids and pick cotton, now we use machines. We used to churn our own butter. Now there's enough wealth in the world that we can afford to have butter specialists make butter and logistics specialists get it to the store shelves. Tasks that we used to think it was reasonable to allocate human time and effort two we no wouldn't think about doing manually today.
I would be highly surprised if in the future we did not continue to optimize for smaller travel times. Of course there are energy and space trade-offs. I think it's highly likely that we will chose to solve the problems caused by those trade-offs rather than having people endure longer travel times when we have the power to shorten them (with tradeoffs).
Spending less and less human time on "overhead" tasks (like churning butter, washing clothes, traveling, etc.) has been a constant theme for millennia. I do not see any reason why that will change.
Not even in terms of the first, because of the last; it's the optimal individual choice in terms of travel time, but making it the socially dominant option produces sprawl (because of space inefficiency); and flying doesn't actually change that (because any dense arrangement means high concentration near the endpoints, and because flight in built up areas is problematic.)
This assumes lots of services, jobs, and housing all within decent walking distances which is quite common in older (European) cities.
Merely walking doesn't scale but the natural extension for longer distances is to walk to a suitable public transit stop, hop on the train/tram/subway, waiting for a while, and continue walking to your destination.
This will also effectively double the locations you might be interested in visiting: you can walk around near home and you can walk around near your workplace.
So, you can use the most effective mode of transport i.e. walking around hundreds of locations (shops, restaurants, services) but you can also switch the whole area by changing transit to another local centre.
It's like looking up stuff really fast in the whole cache line, and then making calculated jumps to read another location into your cache and continuing to traverse locally there.
There's no way any transport can be more efficient than me walking a couple of blocks and checking out maybe 100 doors to different businesses to be considered on my way.
Well, if you need to get from an uncongested area to an uncongested area with a congested urban areas in between and no bypass motorway, and no accessible public transit maybe.
If either origin or destination is congested adding take-off and landing traffic is just going to make things worse.
Not all locations though - I wouldn't dream of driving to work in central Edinburgh as the drive would be a pain, take longer and the parking would be more expensive than getting the train.
Thinking like this baffles me, I can only hope that you are very young.
I just don't see how this is "efficient".
The enabling tech is battery density. Battery density (per kg) has been increasing 5-8% a year (doubling every 10 years). That seems slow compared to transistors (doubling every 2 years), but compound growth sneaks up on you. Enough that an electric car seemed dumb 20 years ago and obvious now.
Urban human quadcopters are unlikely, a car like number of these in cities is hard to imagine. Even with silent electric motors, the noise from take off and landing from air displacement exceeds safe noise levels, and is far above nuisance levels. So I'd guess 2-30 times as much traffic as current helicopters. Also they can and will fall down on expensive stuff and nice people.
The more plausible market is medium range 4 person air taxis, from small airport to small airport, 50 to 400 miles. That's NYC to Boston, SF to LA, Portland to Seattle.
This Boeing story says 50 miles. Pipistrel's Alpha Electro, a 2 seater plane, has a 93 mile range with another 45 miles as reserve (138 total).
In 2029 with similar battery improvement, that will be 231 miles with 45 miles in reserve. The regulatory challenges will be difficult, but in about 2025 you could launch a viable autonomous air taxi company somewhere in the world.
- Drone autonomy is already or easily solved, so you don't pay for a pilot.
- Electricity cost is low.
- Maintenance costs are much lower than gas engine planes.
- Even with maintenance, gas engines are less reliable.
Better battery tech unlocks these last three advantages and makes air taxies feasible.
The future is not one where there are tens of thousands of flying cars over every city, but there are plenty of edge cases where having a few would be wildly beneficial.
Don't get me wrong, if safe enough and cheaper, it could open new usages, hopefully beyond "now, this 'big project manager' can also take it, it's not anymore reserved to the CEO". Usages like medical emergencies could actually be really useful. But it's hardly a progress for the masses and a solution to traffic congestion.
Passenger airlines (like Southwest Airlines, not manufacturing) are at $175 billion in sales, something like air taxis would be very competitive in that market, and probably increase the market too.
A consumer market of $175-415 billion (upper end is domestic manufacturing + passenger airlines) is a good place to start a big huge Apple / Uber / Tesla sized company. Those are market caps of $700B / $72B / $50B respectively.
Automobiles, televisions, VCRs, computers, flush toilets, electric lighting... all started out as wildly expensive luxuries for the super rich. Then they got cheaper.
If you can afford $500/mo in slip fees, you can probably afford the boat. I know people with boats in Santa Cruz that live on extremely modest incomes.
Try running an Osborne 1 on a modern laptop battery for example.
I would have fast airships with high speed winches hovering over the pads, with the ends of the cables managed by smaller drones. This would enable the passenger drones to take off assisted, with their motors only providing control forces, until they reach an altitude where their noise at full power isn't such a nuisance.
B) It doesn't even have wheels, how is it a car?
C) What is that tiny propeller on the back for? I would assume a quadcopter design would propel forward via tilting, the way any normal quadcopter would...do the 4 propellers just _lift_ it?
D) In what world would this thing not require like 3 different complex flight licenses just to be allowed to fly, let alone use in an urban environment?
To play devil's advocate: it's a flying car in the sense of "a small enclosed powered vehicle that takes a few passengers from A to B without a guide track, only it flies instead of drives" not "a normal car that can also fly". Just like "electronic books" replicate the basic functionality of (traditional) books, but don't use the same methods.
Unless it is significantly cheaper to operate or quieter, I don't understand the benefits of these new vehicles/ form factor.
Maybe the hope is that cities will not regulate them, but I am not sure why they would. Please enlighten me if there something else obvious I missed. If both Boeing and Airbus are working on it, there must be something else.
Also much easier to fly I imagine.
The Uber Elevate white paper probably has a lot more info: https://www.uber.com/elevate.pdf/
B.) News outlets are sensational. This is an aircraft, but people equate the future to flying "cars." Also, pedantically speaking, car doesn't have to mean automobile. Car comes from carriage, which was drawn by a horse. By your logic a car should require a horse too, right? :o)
C.) This is a vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) fixed-wing aircraft. The outboard rotors provide vertical lift during takeoff and landing (so yes they are designed to just _lift_ it), but in flight the rear rotor provides forward thrust while the wings provide vertical lift. I assume the outboard rotors will be seized during cruising speeds, or spinning to provide extra lift assuming the fixed wings are not designed to carry the weight of the aircraft themselves during cruise.
D.) If this were to be flown today, it would likely not meet existing civil regulations. Experimental registration and certification aside, there isn't anything like it that isn't military (i.e. the V-22 Osprey) and I don't know of anything that has both VTOL and fixed wing certification. But as you'd expect, part of this effort is to work with the FAA/ICAO to define regulation. It will probably require a single pilot license with perhaps a "VTOL fixed wing" endorsement, exhaustive training will be required, and will probably be allowed to land and anywhere a helicopter can land but be vectored as if it were a fixed wing.
The propeller at the back is for forward motion, presumably because it's less comfortable for human passengers to travel at a 60 degree forward tilt).
"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."
Huh. I never considered that a basic requirement for a flying car is that it, well, would also be a land car.
It is a flying something, but that does not sound cool. Cars _are_ cool, so we call it flying car.
I'm personally working on a concept called the driving airplane. It cannot fly, but it will drive.
When can I invest?
Bell is building their Nexus.
To me, "car" implies still being able to enter those areas like other people with traditional automobiles.
The complexity and upkeep added once your hardware has to be in the air (at our current mass-market technology levels) are far from inconsequential. I wonder if once "flight" is added to an "automated" idea, it gets so far outside of people's understanding that it seems easy. People know how hard it is to drive a car, but they have no idea what's required to drive an airplane.
All of the proposed vehicles I've seen have a failsafe built in--typically a parachute, but you are correct that if it falls on someone's house, car, or person there is going to be a problem.
Free flight autopilot I agree isn't a tough problem to solve- it's free flight launching, landing, and responding to rapid and dangerous changes in atmospheric conditions on autopilot that I'd be worried about.
When you're landing in free flight, you have one chance to set up your approach and landing, and conditions at the LZ can change rapidy- without constant distance and wind measuring equipment as well as enough space to come in a little too high, you're in a very difficult and dangerous situation.
So if we're now taking about needing essentially an airstrip with sensors, it's basically an airport.
I don't think that autopiloted free flight is an impossibility, I just think it's an impossibility for mass-produced untrained consumer use.
There's no "pre-drive" inspection required like there is with all flying vehicles (it's not even safe to fly a low-complexity hang glider without a detailed pre-flight). The upkeep I'm talking about comes with constant and rigorous inspections of all of your single parts, and the consequences that come with failure. If one of your lift-generating blades has microcracks in it because it's been vibrating after an improperly set nut got a little loose, you could experience fan failure during flight and crash.
I've yet to see a car than can fly, i.e., something more car-like that can also fly.
It's kinda funny-looking, but at least it seems like equal attention was paid to the plane and car functions, rather than just making a plane that is theoretically road-worthy.
(Not sure how it's supposed to get better mileage in the air than on the ground, though.)
I currently own a Jeep. My dad once owned a Pinto.
Who in their right mind would think "You know, this is the perfect car to strap some wings to!" for either of these vehicles?
That's just giving the middle finger to the god's of flight begging for a quick death.
Again, in the the flying Pinto's case - that's what happened.
Definition of "car": a road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people.
Definition of "automobile": a road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people.
There are inherently many constraints in this type of market. Building owners are going to charge for access to their helipads. The fare is going to compare closer to hiring a helicopter than hiring an SUV rideshare. The approximate 50% duty cycle means roughly doubling the fleet size to eliminate gaps in availability. And finally, Aviation Authorities will limit the number of craft simultaneously operating in a given airspace.
To not just the occupants of the vehicles, but pedestrians below, too.
When walking along a road, there's always the (admittedly slight) chance of being either hit by a car or struck by debris from a nearby accident. Now imagine if that road (perhaps several) is above you! What previously might have been stopped by friction from the road now flies much farther....
I work near a small regional airport, which used to be "in the middle of nowhere" but is now surrounded on all sides by office parks, malls, etc. Much like many airports, I suppose.
A couple of years back we had an accident where a small plane pilot lost control (I never found out the cause) and his plane crashed just beyond the end of the runway as he was taking off.
His plane "landed" in a small tree next to the sidewalk of a busy road. Shut it down for hours.
Nobody was seriously injured or killed; pilot and passenger "walked away" with minor cuts and scrapes, and nobody on the road or sidewalk was involved. Had it been a few hours later when rush hour occurred it might've been a different situation...
My employer is right below one of the flight lines for takeoffs and landings (my boss is working on his pilot's license); I can hear planes flying over, taking off, etc every day. I sometimes wonder about the idea of a plane crashing into the building, but there's nothing I can do about it, so it isn't something I dwell on.
That's just from one small regional airport. I can only imagine accidents from so-called "flying cars". I can believe such vehicles overall could be made safe, and accidents rare - but they will happen occasionally, that I don't doubt.
https://www.liftaircraft.com/ has what I think of when I think of a possible future mode of transporation through the air.
Unfortunately that video is very uninformative....it goes up, then down. How does it maneuver? What's its speed like? There are some serious details lacking from all of this press.
Let alone the carbon and resource footprint, per passenger-mile?
Anyone? Anyone at all?
Yeah, I don't know why the article uses the term car. Its clearly not.
As someone who grew up in the Seattle area, this made me sad.
Reminiscent of Amazon's HQ2 efforts.
So, maybe an improved "air taxi", in the same way that helicopters are used today in certain cities.
But not a flying car.
...We just need appropriate noise regulations, which will almost certainly prevent private citizens from operating them. Especially in cities.
Case in point: Our startup has been quietly flying a similar technology demonstrator since early 2018. While we don't get nearly as many headlines, occasionally something comes out: https://www.wired.com/story/beta-ava-flying-car-aviation/
PS: We're hiring :) If you are into hard software problems and want to join what could be the next Tesla but for aerospace, send me your resume: email@example.com
Looks more like a weird airplane