WHY FLYING CARS ARE NO LONGER FANTASY

为什么飞行汽车不再是幻想Anthony Lam and Shelly Bryant

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The dream of flying cars has been with us for nearly a century now. In fact, the first patent for a flying car was filed in 1918, and flying cars have been attempted by the likes of Henry Ford in 1926 and Alfa Romeo in 1940s. While none of these visions have yet come into being, the dream of the flying car has been held onto rather stubbornly over the years. Today, some industry insiders predict that the dream will finally become a reality within the next five years.

One major factor pushing the perceived need for the flying car is the increasing road congestion in builtup areas. The “built-up” part of the equation, though, presents specific obstacles for the potential boom of personal aviation too. Regulatory issues, privacy, and practicality are all presenting roadblocks for the burgeoning industry, yet many are boldly predicting that we have at last come to the time where flying cars will soon be a reality.

One major obstacle that is already being addressed is financing. Big players like Google, Skype, and Uber are entering the field directly, bringing all their considerable resources to the table. Other companies that may not have such seemingly limitless financial resources are not, however, getting squeezed out by these big names. In fact, long time player Carplane, whose very name shows its dedication to seeing the rollout of this technology, has won a 500,000-euro subsidy from the local government of Lower Saxony, making it a name to be watched. Carplanes’s vehicle, designed to use a short runway, has already become the first of its kind to receive certification for its prototype.

The emerging flying car sector sees itself as providing a service that is neatly situated between flying and driving, and therefore serving a whole new market. In the past, cultural mindsets have prevented any real possibility of growth in the industry because most people didn’t think of themselves as potential pilots. Today, however, it seems that mindsets are

人们对于飞行汽车的梦想已持续将近一个世纪。实际上飞行汽车的首个专利在1918年就已有记录,并且1926年的亨利·福特和1940年代的阿尔法·罗密欧都尝试过制造飞行汽车。然而这些愿景都未成功,飞行汽车之梦又不得不延续多年。如今,有业界人士预测,未来五年,这一梦想将最终实现。

主要的障碍首先是融资。谷歌、Skype和优步等巨头已经直接进入这一领域,并且投入了相当可观的资源。其他公司可能没有这样大笔的资金投入,但也未被挡在行业之外。业界有一家历史悠久的参与者“汽车飞机”公司,这一公司名称已显示了将飞行汽车技术转化为现实的决心,该公司已从德国下萨克森州获得50万欧元的政府资助,使其成为了一家知名的飞行汽车企业。汽车飞机公司的产品设计为可短跑道起降,其原型机已成为首个取得合格证的此类飞机。

飞行汽车这一新兴产业旨在精准定位飞行和开车这一融合服务领域,完全是一个全新的市场。过去,传统思想会阻碍这一产业成为现实,因为大多数人都不认为自己可以做飞行员。如今,传统思维正在改变。这一全新种类的航空器在技术上早已不难掌握,并且能够越来越好地解决人们上下班的交通问题。随着轻型运动飞机这一全新飞机种类的出现,近年来,人们的思维已有了很大进步。驾驶这类航空器,只需有20飞行小时的经历,美国4年前才开始推出。这一全新飞机类别为

shifting. These new vehicles are seen less as a technical behemoth too grand to master and more as a potential solution to the problems encountered in the course of one’s commute. This shifting mindset was given a further push in recent years with the introduction of a new category of aircraft, Light Sport Aircraft. These vehicles, which can be flown with a qualification that can be achieved with just 20 hours of flight time, were introduced in the US just four years ago. The new category opens up access to personal flying at a time when roads are clogging up, creating ideal conditions to challenge old assumptions about aviation being limited to a select few.

Currently, the expectation is that flying cars will be used for journeys between 200 km and 1,200 km. For longer trips, airliners will still be preferred, while shorter distances will still be covered by cars. However, there are some who would challenge those assumptions. While it is acknowledged that current regulations make personal flight in cities near impossible, there are others who see the congestion in cities and feel that the more built up a place is, the greater the need to fly above the congestion.

One key factor in flying in built up areas would be the question of finding sufficient space for takeoff and landing. One answer to the problem is to rely on vertical takeoff and landing – a type of flight that is clearly seen to be superior for built-up areas, considering the heavy use of helicopters in medivac situations. However, the reliance on vertical takeoff and landing creates a noise issue, which would be compounded if personal aircraft become ubiquitous. Many manufacturers are currently

CURRENTLY, THE EXPECTATION IS THAT FLYING CARS WILL BE USED FOR JOURNEYS BETWEEN 200 KM AND 1,200 KM. FOR LONGER TRIPS, AIRLINERS WILL STILL BE PREFERRED, WHILE SHORTER DISTANCES WILL STILL BE COVERED BY CARS.目前,飞行汽车的设计预期是定位于至200 1200公里的旅程。更远的距离,航空公司会更有优势,更短的距离,则汽车更方便。

researching various possibilities for addressing this concern, such as systems that combine fixed-wing and rotor configurations. For instance, Aurora Flight Systems’ EVTOL does exactly that, while Moller International focuses more on engines that tilt between vertical and horizontal positions.

UBER is one of the big players most keenly pushing the drive for flying cars, and they stand to benefit from the new technology more than anyone else. UBER is already zeroing in on questions such as hub location, hub size, hub occupation, load factor, flight time, airspace separation, minimum ground time, passenger capacity, and platform size. With the data available to them through their own private hire car application, they are well-positioned to answer all of these questions and more. In fact, they are so confident in their ability to address these issues, that they plan to test the “UBER Elevate Network,” basically a fleet of flying taxis, in Dallas and Dubai in 2020.

Some regulators and industry insiders scoff at this idea – but not because of the flying cars. Their only hangup is with the timeline. While Uber, Google, and Skype are talking in terms of a five-year window, most of those on the other side of the equation – engineers and regulators – do not see this as a realistic goal. Some suggest six to eight years, at least, while others argue that the sluggish speed at which laws and regulations can be changed to meet industry needs and demands means a longer wait than that.

But whichever camp you listen to, there seems to be a consensus concerning the fact of an emerging industry. The question is no longer whether we will see the birth of flying cars, but how soon.

SOME REGULATORS AND INDUSTRY INSIDERS SCOFF AT THIS IDEA – BUT NOT BECAUSE OF THE FLYING CARS. THEIR ONLY HANGUP IS WITH THE TIMELINE.一些管理者和业内人士还不看好这一理念,但并不是因为飞行汽车,而是觉得时间太紧。

道路拥堵时的私人飞行创造了可能,也打破了过去大家认为航空是少数人专享的思想。

目前,飞行汽车的设计预期是定位于200至1200公里的旅程。更远的距离,航空公司会更有优势,更短的距离,则汽车更方便。不过,很多人可能会质疑这一定位。因为目前的法规并不支持在城市进行私人飞行,但市区非常拥堵,城市建设越发达,飞越拥堵区域的需求就越强烈。

在城市建设密集区飞行的一个主要因素是解决起降空间的问题。其中一种方案就是垂直起降,这是城市飞行的最优选择,医疗直升机的大量使用可以作为参考。但是,垂直起降会引发噪音问题,如果私人飞机普及,噪音问题将会叠加,更为严重。很多制造商都在研究解决方案,例如融合固定翼和旋翼结构, Aurora飞行系统公司的EVTOL就是这种设计。而Moller国际公司则专注发动机的垂直和水平矢量转换。

优步是推动飞行汽车理念的一个重要市场参与者,并受益于其无可匹敌的全新科技。优步已经开始攻关一些核心问题,如枢纽位置、枢纽规模、枢纽占位、业载系数、飞行时间、空域分隔、最小化地面时间、旅客容量和平台规模。

根据自有的私人租车应用得到的大数据,他们能够很好地回答以上这些问题。实际上,他们对解决这些问题的能力非常自信,计划测试“优步高级网络”, 2020年在达拉斯和迪拜组成飞行的士机队。

一些管理者和业内人士还不看好这一理念,但并不是因为飞行汽车,而是觉得时间太紧。优步、谷歌和Skype提出五年的窗口期,而工程师和管理者认为这一目标不切实际。有些人建议至少68至年,还有些人认为制定满足行业需求的规章,修改速度会很慢,这意味着等待期会更长。

无论哪种观点,这个新兴产业都将不可避免地来临。问题不是多久能够诞生飞行汽车,而是到底有多快就会出现。

Uber Flying Car

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