When I was a young boy, I used to doodle images of what my flying car might look like. It was a pretty simplistic hybrid of a car and a helicopter or sometimes it would be a car with jet wings attached. I really thought the idea was cool almost 40 years ago, and to this day always wished I could transform those notepad scribbles into reality when stuck in traffic. I would love to turn my vehicle into a flying machine to relieve my anguish of auto congestion and just fly out of there.
A Drone Car
Well, the boyish dreams are becoming a reality and this is going to be another game-changer, another disruptive tech advancement that may be just a few years off. Let’s be practical in the analysis here: people are generally lousy drivers. Do we really believe that society is going to let those same idiots that cut you off or don’t use a turn signal pilot their own mini personal aircraft in the skies? I don’t think so. But what I do believe is that technology is advancing quickly enough that computer algorithms and advance location services, like GPS will bring on the “passenger drones”, self-driving computer based flying cars.
Scientific American recently opined that these flying passenger vehicles could shrink commute times from hours to minutes. Chinese start-up EHANG last month announced it would debut its passenger drone service in Dubai in July. They refer to their vehicles as Autonomous Aerial Vehicles or (AAV). The video of their test flight on Youtube is incredible to watch. The pace of advancement from toy drones just a few years ago to personal vehicles is astonishing. These are not the only folks working on this, Lyft, Google, and Kitty Hawk are also working on unmanned vehicle programs. The implications for military, crop dusting, personal commuting and disaster rescue are just staggering.
Questions and a Leap of Faith
The leap of faith for me and I am sure everyone else is safety. Will the command centers on the ground that are responsible for guiding a passenger safely from one point to the other really be effective? Will the guidance systems be hack-able and the unmanned drones crash into each other or to the ground if the computers are compromised? What if you run out of battery charge?
I am not the one, who is going to be eager to be an early pioneer. For me, I will put my childish dreams aside for a bit, wait to see it all play out for a number of years and bring my parachute.