Here in York traffic is not really that bad. Sure, Route 30 at rush hour can be packed but that is nothing compared to what goes on in nearby Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia. For many people who spend hours sitting in traffic the dream of owning a flying car is a tantalizing prospect and one that may soon be a reality. And we do mean soon.

A Drone For a Flying Car?

When you think of a flying car you probably think of your car with wings on it or like George Jetson drove around. The flying car of the near future probably won’t look like that. It will probably look more like a drone, or at least Intel’s drone group general manager Anil Nanduri thinks.

Drones have changed so many things from simple aerial photography to package delivery and even more complex things like inspecting bridges for cracks or putting on a complex aerial display like was seen at the most recent Super Bowl. The technology is here. Thousands of drones were able to be programmed by Intel to perform complex maneuvers and operate in tight spaces and not one crashed. That is an impressive feat of technology and bodes well for this concept.

Why A Drone?

Why could a drone be the ideal flying car, at least to start? One of the major hangups for any flying vehicle would be the licensing for the person controlling it. You have certainly been out on the roads and you know that some people are better at operating their cars than others. Taking that into the skies could present a more serious risk to everyone flying their car. An automated drone solves that.

A drone is of course much more economically feasible as well. Developing an actual flying car will take a lot of time, not only in development but also in passing government regulation. As such, they will be extremely expensive to start. A drone will not be.

Can A Drone Carry A Person?

Of course more powerful drones will need to be developed as the average consumer available drone can only carry about 3-5 pounds and some heavy-duty models can lift around 40 pounds. But a new model drone released by a Norweigan company can carry almost 500 pounds! More than sufficient to carry you and your groceries.

Considering that drones have been used for military applications and already are carrying heavy payloads it was a matter of time before civilian usage for this would become practical. That is why it is possible that an air taxi service could be available to the public by 2023 using electric vertical take-off and landing technology. That is only 4 years from now.

A Fundamental Change In Society

Uber’s model calls for skyports placed at strategic locations around an urban area so driving a car may still be necessary or an alternative method can be scheduled using Uber’s app, which will also be used to schedule a flight. This also has the potential to force a complete change in the urban landscape.

With electric motors being used carbon emissions will also be reduced further helping the environment. Fewer cars stuck in gridlock, people getting more of their day back and less emissions seem to be a win-win-win proposition. It is also a much more practical and economical solution than Elon Musk’s Hyperloop solution, at least within an urban and suburban environment.

Concerns

There are of course concerns. Thousands of people die every year in car collisions and moving loads of people into the air adds another potentially deadly variable. Of course that has not stopped thousands of people from flying commercially so for many they will not be worried. The possibility of not being stuck in traffic for hours each week will more than make up for the risk.

Add to that the potential restriction of airspace around popular events or locations in a city could have a negative impact on the service. If people aren’t able to utilize the service to get to a sporting event or concert despite demand it could be a breaking point. Of course for Uber they may just provide a last-mile service to mitigate these concerns, or with fewer people driving to an event an on-site parking lot could easily be converted for use with a service like this.

Of course this technology will not be coming to York by 2023, in fact it will take much longer before it reaches us. Uber intends to rollout the service in select cities like Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth to trial it and it will take much longer to reach other cities as the inevitable kinks will need to be worked out. Until then we will still need to sit in traffic. There is no getting around it.

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