The flying car era will really begin around 2030 with flying drones. Flying drones will be used by FedEx and UPS to deliver packages, Pizza Hut to deliver pizzas, and Kroger and Safeway to deliver groceries. But beyond that, drones will enable homes to be taken off the grid with delivery of water and electricity (changing out batteries for the home), trash and sewage pickup, and much more. These too will begin as air-powered vehicles and later convert to frictionless drones.
Six key technological breakthroughs will be needed for the first generation of flying cars to become viable – the fully automated navigation systems, directional layering of airspace, low-impact vertical take-off, convenient fly-drive capability, silent engines, and specialized safety systems. 1. Fully automated navigation systems – The average person has a difficult time navigating on a two dimensional surface. The flying car industry will not be able to “get off the ground” without an onboard navigator that “handles the driving”.
Yes, people will want the freedom of being able to do some creative maneuvering in certain situations, but that will only be allowed in rare instances. 2. Directional layering of airspace – With several hundred thousand vehicles flying over a city, there will need to be an organized system for managing the traffic, and having all vehicles at a particular altitude traveling the same direction would eliminate many problems. For example, all vehicles traveling at 1,000 ft altitude would be traveling due north, at 1,010 ft altitude 1 degree east of due north, 1,020 ft altitude 2 degrees east of due north, etc.
Vehicles would spiral up or down to make their turns. While not a perfect solution because the North Pole becomes a crash point for those flying due north, it does represent a good starting point for engineering a solution. 3. Low-impact vertical take-off – For use by the average person, flying cars cannot have a runway requirement. They need to take off and land vertically without blowing the leaves off of trees or shutters off your house. 4. Convenient fly-drive capability – As humanity makes the transition from ground-based autos to flying cars there will be a need for both driving on the ground and flying in the air. . Silent engines – Very few cities will want to put up with the noise of several hundred thousand flying vehicles if they all sound like airplanes. 6. Specialized safety systems – To date both aircraft and airspace have been closely controlled by organizations like the FAA and the NTSB to insure the safety of the flying public. Because of the sheer volume of vehicles and the lower caliber of individuals allowed to fly, additional safety measures will have to be in place. Safety technologies will include collision avoidance systems and drop-out-of-the-sky emergency airbags on the outside of vehicles.