WHY FLYING CARS ARE NO LONGER FANTASY
为什么飞行汽车不再是幻想Anthony Lam and Shelly Bryant
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
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。
Uber Flying Car