We keep hearing how technology will eventually solve the problem of vehicular traffic for good. Self-driving cars will only get us halfway to that future — they're still cars, clogging up our roads, speeding down our freeways. The personal mobility future that I'm waiting for includes autonomous drone taxis that can sail high over the city, delivering me safely to my destination.
Sound impossible? In this video recorded in Los Angeles, a fleet of drone taxis swoop through the sky, providing not only a transit solution, but a peaceful, scenic commute.
Is it real? It could be. The video is by moovel lab, the German think tank that creates future scenarios and data visualisations for (real-life) car-sharing company car2go. They're actually working on some ways to help people use technology to get from one place to another. Just not in drones. Yet.
While I assure you that here in LA I cannot see any taxidrones overhead, how far are we away from this reality? Drones are getting bigger and more powerful all the time — Google filed a patent for drone ambulances to help airlift humans out of precarious situations. Planes are essentially already autonomous so flying wouldn't really be problem. LA is a actually a prime candidate for such a service: Our city is geographically spread out with not so many tall buildings, which leaves the airspace relatively open. Besides, human-scale drones that could be used for transportation as well as city services would also fix one of the worst parts about living in LA: The noisy-arse helicopters.