Picture the scene. It’s been a long day at work. You’re miles from the comforts of home. You’re tired, probably grumpy and sweating behind the wheel of your motor in an impossibly long queue of stationary congestion that’s going nowhere. Consequently, neither are you. Who at that point hasn’t wanted to hit the button marked “vertical take-off”, propel skywards and laugh through the skies above the miles of traffic below?
Unlikely? With modern technology’s rapid progression, perhaps not so much.
Mirror, signal, take-off!
A flying car might seem a fanciful notion lifted from the pages of Harry Potter or the silver screen. But it’s a gear shift that’s merely moments away. What’s more, it might even be driving a greener future.
The theory behind a flying car is perhaps simpler than you might think. Imagine a drone crossbred with a Lexus and you’re not far off. From A-road to airborne in moments via a pair of gyrocopter-clad concealed wings that unfold at the push of a button and you’re on your flight-path home in minutes.
Okay, your local showroom is a few years shy of stocking the latest model. But VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) is a sound process based on solid technology. So how’s it earning its green reputation?
Blue skies, green pathways
Research conducted by the University of Michigan looked at the various scenarios and fuel consumption of regular cars and their cloud-bound alternative. The results were a little surprising.
Assessing the environmental impact of flying cars, the study showed that for smaller journeys, the car wasn’t as energy efficient as its grounded cousin. But for longer trips of around 60 miles or more, the study showed that a VTOL vehicle had emissions at a whopping 52 percent lower than a petrol-powered car. Even electric cars didn’t come out favourably, themselves with 6 percent higher emissions than the VTOL cars.
Occupancy, however, is key to this statistic. The flying car would need to have a full complement to make it worthwhile. Also noteworthy is the fact that thanks to the excessive electrical power needed to propel the car to the skies, shorter journeys simply aren’t energy efficient. That lone commuter’s pipedream? Sadly, still just that.
Air miles and miles and miles
Nevertheless with enviable eco credentials, the pursuit of flying cars is a journey absolutely worth taking. A taxi-based service for multiple passengers could make longer journeys at a zippy 150mph. More miles covered in a tighter timeframe, flying through the skies whilst making that very air less polluted as a result. It’s a goal for which several companies are striving.
This is the sort of venture that invites a smarter use of energy resources. More passengers travelling in direct flight paths (with shorter distances to the same destination) using renewable energy sources to power the vehicles. Over time, technology will be propelled forward by the financial allure of cheaper travel and the incentive of greener fuel consumption, passengers choosing to take flight instead of the rugged twist of the asphalt ground.
All we need now is a cure for altitude sickness.
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