Science, Technology, and Social Media

About the Future of Transportation

As the world moves towards electric cars, I have to ask, really? Clearly, the future of ground transportation is electric, but whatever happened to the obvious? The only logical and vastly superior future of transportation is flying cars, and not the silly multi-rotor types currently envisioned.

The Harrier jet was built in the sixties. There is no reason cars shouldn’t use the same concept in combination with lightweight materials. In a future of flying cars, trillions would be saved from the endless maintenance of millions of miles of roads. But more importantly, people wouldn’t have to suffer the insanity of slow, primitive, one-dimensional transportation.

Are our ambitions so improvident as to ignore the idiocy of traffic jams and road-limited travel? Who dreams about a future where old concepts become completely impractical as the population grows. Imagine if 7 billion people still cooked over wood fires. As cities grow into the millions, traffic is becoming untenable and the quality of life insufferable. Clearly, we need a vast escalation of airline speed rail and the like, but beyond the cities, there is a universe of country that simply cannot be accessed in a road-dependent transportation universe. Not to mention the degradation that roads pose to the environment.

Consider these engineering facts and then try to imagine a future devoid of silly land cars. A helicopter lifts 7 pounds per horsepower and the max weight of a small plane is 2500 lbs. This suggests a car might only need less than 400 horsepower which is readily and affordably achievable. In a flying car, so many of the more expensive and heavy components are eliminated like a transmission, the A-frame, wheels, etc. With the use of airbags, possibly including external bags, the likelihood of serious injury due to a crash could almost certainly, be reduced to an acceptable level.

Of course, there are trade-offs. In a future land-locked world, we can eventually get us to a handful of locations with low-horsepower demand electric cars, whereas if we use high-horsepower flying cars, we can go to all the locations we wish we could go to. But to do this, we would have to eventually replace fossil fuels with CO2-free ammonia-powered engines which would require ammonia production, or we would have to figure out how to make a hydrogen chain for room-temperature hydrogen fuel.

In the end, the decision is ours to make. Do we pursue a future of really really cool high-horsepower transportation or do we pursue a phenomenally limited future because we believe we can’t figure out how to produce all the power we want? As for me, I don’t believe is sharing a small pie if there is no legitimate reason not to just make as many pies as needed or wanted. Currently, the convenience of air travel is limited to an elite wealthy class who fly around in ultra-expensive helicopters while the peasants are parked on 10-lane parking lots. But this doesn’t always have to be the case. If the peasants choose, they too can fly around in cars that would cost less to build than current land-locked cars.

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