A Realistic Flying Car Comes

Bravo! It’s finally–almost–a reality. The first realistic concept for a flying car has been released and you will see it before the close of the next decade. For the last fiftyish years I have waited for this dream to come true. As a late baby-boomer child growing up in the 1960’s, with science fiction trumpeting all the extraordinary innovations we would have in the 21st Century, the flying car was always the coolest and most wondrous of them all. I also daydreamed of our domed underwater cities, and huge space stations orbiting the planet, and our colonization of the Moon, and eradication of all diseases, and extermination of all wars, and terraforming of Mars, and exploration of the solar system with our vast fleet of starships, and armies of benign robots performing all our mundane tasks. Apparently mid-20th century science fiction writers were a bit ambitious in their prophecies, but at least one is at hand and soon may be available for abuse. The phenomenal flying car.

A U.S. based company called Terrafugia claims it’s new concept vehicle, the TF-X, will be a real prototype by 2018 and available to the world by 2024. For all you techno-geekers, it will have fold-out wings with twin electric motors attached to each end. The vehicle will have a sweet cruising speed of 200 mph along with a 500-mile flight range. These motors will allow the TF-X to move from a vertical to a horizontal position, and is powered by a 300 hp engine. The planned four-person TF-X will be semi-autonomous and  computer-controlled so that passengers can simply type in a destination before taking off. The TF-X vehicles will be capable of automatically avoiding other air traffic, bad weather, and restricted and tower-controlled airspace. It will be able to recharge its batteries either from its engine or by plugging in to electric car charging stations. Just makes your under-drawers explode with delight!

Of course, there are some caveats to ownership of your own TF-X. Firstly, it is expected to have a price tag around $261,000.  Roughly the same price as one of Elon Musk’s trendy electric Tesla POS’s. So us poor folks will have to scrimp and save our beer money and do without some serious groceries. Secondly, you will have to have a pilots license in addition to a drivers license, as well as 20 hours of flying time to boot. But at least you can drive it home, and around your cronies, until you pass the pilot’s course. Thirdly, the insurance will be brutal to own one, if you can get insurance at all. But hey, it’s a flying car! You can now be at Granny’s house in a fraction of the time it takes now. And will she be thrilled as you drag her kicking and screaming out for a ride in the future.

And flying cars will bring up a whole new crop of issues about the use of the heavily controlled airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governmental Nazis will be having fits over the general public suddenly having access to buzzing through the skies. Amazon is seeing that firsthand with their drone delivery program right now, and you aren’t seeing them flying up to your doorstep. And, as always, you have the human factor. Suddenly, thousands of flying vehicles will be in the possible control of bold geriatrics, or possible drunks, or living troglodytes, or 40 year old adolescents who’s most muttered suicidal statement is “Hey guys, watch this!”  What about pampered little inexperienced Jimmy who just turned 16 and rich Daddy bought him his first car. And let’s be totally honest, maintenance on this puppy is something you can’t ignore, and will take a NASA trained engineer to work on it. No shade tree mechanic work here. If you have a fender-bender with these beauties, it will be most distinctly and permanently fatal, most likely. And then there’s the collateral damage. You’re innocently sitting on your couch eating a bean burrito lathered in guacamole, watching the latest episode of your favorite cartoon Keeping Up With the Kardashians, when a flying car drops through your roof and destroys your only toilet.

Well, we are at least on the verge of watching flying cars zooming around the skies, but there are a lot of other issues t

hat need addressing first. Those things were supposed to be handled by now, when I was dreaming as a child. Apparently not.  But it’s a flying car and I am still excited to see the first one zoom by, several miles away from my family and home and commode.

So once again, technology is arriving before the responsibility to control it. Reminds me of the line in Macbeth: “Something wicked this way comes.”

Touché.

 

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