Are flying cars just “one to three years” away? Probably not. But that’s the claim being made today by Uber’s latest hire — a man who promises that flying cars are just around the corner. Just two more years, guys!
Concept illustration for a VTOL flying car, something that is still two years away according to Uber (Uber Technologies)
A story from Bloomberg landed in my inbox yesterday proclaiming that Uber had hired a former NASA engineer, Mark Moore, to spearhead the company’s flying car initiative. Flying cars have been the perennial dream of futurists for well over a century now. But they always seem to be just two years away.
“These air taxis will only need ranges of between 50 to 100 miles [80 to 160km], and Moore thinks that they can be at least partially recharged while passengers are boarding or exiting the aircraft,” the Bloomberg piece proclaims.
“He also predicts we’ll see several well-engineered flying cars in the next one to three years and that there will be human pilots, at least managing the onboard computers, for the foreseeable future.”
Emphasis mine, of course. Because we’ve heard this before. Every six months or so the tech and auto press seem to get amnesia and parrot the latest from people developing flying cars. It’s always just two years away. At this point it’s like a cultish chant: Just two more years, just two more years.
Take a look at the promises for flying cars from the past decade, if you don’t believe me:
- From 2008: “The first Transition will fly in November. Customers will have them by the end of 2009.”
- From 2013: “The company says it currently has about 100 deposits for the $279,000 multi-purpose vehicle, and production is scheduled to begin in 2015.”
- From 2015: “The future is here because, in 2017, you’ll be able to buy a flying car. Seriously.”
And, of course, there are countless other examples. But let’s just say I’m not holding my breath. In fact, back in 2015, I promised to literally eat the sun if the AeroMobil was released by 2017. I guess I’ll give them until the end of the year.
The Bloomberg article is a great little ad for Uber. It’s cool that some people are still dreaming big. But if you step back for a moment and recognise what it would take to actually make flying cars happen, you know that we’re a lot farther than two years (sorry, “one to three years”) away from seeing them commonly zipping around in the skies.
Nobody knows what the future holds, and here’s hoping that Uber can make this whole flying car thing work out. But two years is a very ambitious goal, given the current state of VTOL technology.
And let’s just say that the current business climate in the United States doesn’t give many business leaders hope that they’re going to see any kind of demand for luxuries like a flying car.