ON THE FLY
Flying cars could reach consumers by 2019
Close proximity to work is one of the top factors young generation looks for when choosing where to live. While commutes in urban areas like LA and SF are notoriously tedious, auto manufacturers are working on innovative alternatives that could eventually render road-based travel obsolete.
Uber’s head of product recently announced that the company is adding a third city, LA, to its list of places where it hopes to pilot its aerial taxi service by 2020, joining Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai. The on-demand aviation project, Elevate, has the potential to radically improve urban mobility; the company envisions a future in which urban air transportation will use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate congestion on the ground by using a network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically (called VTOL aircraft for Vertical Take-off and Landing, and pronounced vee-tol). This new form of travel could enable rapid, reliable transportation between suburbs and cities and, ultimately, within cities.
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, the Chinese owner of automaker Volvo, recently announced their acquisition of Terrafugia, a company founded by five award-winning MIT graduates that aims to deliver its first flying car, the Transition, to the market in 2019. The company has already developed and flown two full-scale prototypes of the vehicle, which will incorporate autonomous technologies that will purportedly make it safer than any other small aircraft in the sky. Meanwhile, its next model, the all-electric F-X, will feature the first VTOL and computer-controlled flight capabilities.
Toyota has partnered with Cartivator Resource Management to help develop a flying car that it hopes will play a special part in the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. Per Futurism, Toyota has also recently made headlines in acknowledging that their partnership with Elon Musk’s Tesla had come to a close at the end of last year. The automobile giant has since advanced their own electric car division to compete with Tesla’s popular line. Their work with Cartivator is more low-key than previous flying car concepts from the company; they introduced a futuristic concept car called the Concept-i at the most recent Consumer Electronics Show.