To supporters, they are the solution to congestion. To critics, they’re just billionaires’ toys. So are they the answer to urban travel?
It’s right up there with meal pills, jetpacks, robot butlers and colonies on Mars. Since at least 1962, when the TV cartoon characters George, Jane, Elroy and Judy Jetson first took to the skies, flying cars have been a staple of speculative visions of the future. Designs for dozens of small, affordable, personal flying machines were unveiled in the latter half of the 20th century. Few became airborne and none took commercial flight.
Now, however, a form of flying car is set to escape the clutches of eccentrics and the confines of science fiction. A handful of well-funded startups, some backed by major aviation and car companies, have carried out test flights of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Piloted air taxi and shuttle services are expected before 2025. Uber says it expects to be operating aircraft without pilots by around 2030.