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Flying cars: Dream comes true

Flying cars: Dream comes true

“Mark my word: A combination of airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile, but it will come.” These were the golden words, said by Henry Ford in 1940.

Since the start of recorded history, the dream to fly like birds could be found in myths, art and literature. Nearly every culture has its own version of winged angels, horses, dragons, as well as flying carpets etc. The world’s folklore is replete with stories of soaring gods and flying heroes who, unlike humans, are able to navigate. Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) the famous painter of Mona Lisa has depicted in his 5000 pages notes about the designs for flying machines. They include a pyramidal parachute, a model helicopter, and several flapping-wing devices, inspired by his study of birds.

Wilbur and Orville Wright Flyer flew less than a half mile in its four flights on December 17, 1903. But well before that, French aeronautical pioneer, Alphonse Pénaud, in 1870, built and flew a series of rotary wing and fixed-wing models and “Ornithopters” powered by twisted rubber strands.

Mankind has always been intrigued with flight. Possessing the ability to soar above the clouds enables us to reach amazing places and fast. The 1700s saw the beginning of the age of modern aviation and brought forth the main categories of lighter-than-air and heavier-than-air aviation. The very first passenger air travel started in Florida on January 14, 1914, taking passengers between St. Petersburg and Tampa.

Civil aviation saw incredible growth During the mid of 1900s, the aviation witnessed the implausible growth bringing forth revolutionary aircraft designs making air travel more accessible and comfortable for the general public.

The classic idea of a flying car was just that: a car that could somehow fly. In fiction, the author Ian Fleming was a fan of flying cars, writing his novel Chitty Bang around the concept in 1963. He also included a flying car in his James Bond novel (1964) and subsequent film, The Man with The Golden Gun.

These concepts are based on a car with wheels that can drive on the road but is also capable of flying when required.

Since the development of transport systems, humans have exploited ground-level, below- ground, and high-altitude spaces for transportation purposes. However, with the increasing burden of expanding populations and rapid urbanization, public transportation systems and freight traffic are suffering huge pressure.

Scientists and researchers engineer have started to re-examine, propose, and develop the underused near-ground spaces (NGS) for transportation purposes. For instance, flying cars, which are not a totally novel idea, aim at solving the traffic congestion problem and releasing the strains on existing city transport networks by utilizing unoccupied NGS. Flying cars differ from traditional grounded transportation systems that are entirely limited by their physical space, such as trains on tracks or automobiles on roads.

Flying car is the airplane that can drive. It has a lightweight, it comes with collapsible wings and efficient design make it precision & tuned for flight, using a flying car would offer less traffic on the ground for normal car drivers & it would require shorter transit times. Flying cars are also a popular theme in fantasy & science fiction stories.

Flying cars have been around in various forms since the ’30s but have never ”taken off”. The concept of a Flying Car is a car which is envisioned to be a roadable aircraft which can be used both, travelling on road as well as in air. Flying car is an updation of a car just to overcome problems faced by people in high traffic areas.

Some people think that the flying car, has proved to be more of a fantasy than an achievable reality, unlike the roadable aircraft. A key element in the development of a successful flying car is designing a control system that will enable a ‘driver’ who may not be a trained pilot to operate the vehicle in either mode of travel.

Consequently, public transportation and freight traffic have also experienced increased pressure in line with expanding economic development, and this over development has paradoxically limited further economic and social development.

So far, there have been some works presented to introduce and discuss flying car system, however, none of them has elaborated on the developing history of fly cars and their current developing features, which are the key component in FCTS. Given the lack of comprehensive literature on both flying cars and flying car transportation systems (FCTS).

However, this century has witnessed rapid advancements in power battery technology, metallic and non-metallic materials, autonomous control, and mechanical manufacturing, and thus the development of flying cars has advanced significantly in recent years. The commercialization of flying cars has been motivated by increased transportation pressure, rapid urbanization, and global economic growth. Therefore, to date, the current technical trend of developing flying cars is driven by a need to provide safe, green, fast, and convenient human/freight transportation services in urban areas by using electric power.

There are four modes or designs of flying cars has four aspects: Take-off & Landing (TOL) modes, Pilot modes, Operation modes, and Power types. These has been categorized as per adaptability, flexibility & comfort, stability & complexity, and environmental friendliness.


Aerial vehicles can take off and land vertically. Under this mode, no runways are needed for either take-off or landing

Aerial vehicles can take off vertically but return to the ground by taxiing along a runway. So there would be need of runways.

Aerial vehicles taxi along the runway before take-off, and land vertically at the destination. So, runways are required only for the take-off process.

Aerial vehicles require a runway for both take-off and landing.

The VTOL mode is evidently the best choice for flying cars that operate in urban districts, where the space to build runways is not normally available. The HTOL mode is a good option for rural areas, where there is sufficient space to build runways.

Flying cars should be equipped with rotary wings or vertical fans to achieve VTOL, while fixed/fold-able wings are required for HTOL. From a technical viewpoint, rotary wings or vertical fans are more complex and expensive than fixed/foldable wings. The best choice of TOL mode for a flying car depends on the application scenario. The flying cars with HTOL are a suitable commercial choice for rural areas where there is sufficient space to build runways for taxiing.

A- Pilot Modes

This mode explains how the flying cars are operated and controlled during TOL and flying, which is most important in terms of the hardware costs, operating costs.

1- HP Mode

Under this mode, flying cars are operated by pilots, as in traditional aircrafts, and a driver’s license or a pilot certificate would be required.

2- SP Mode

Under the SP mode, flying cars can perform all operations in a fully autonomous way without the need for pilots, thus incurring lower operating costs than the HP mode.

3- Hybrid Mode

The hybrid mode has been proposed and adopted by some flying cars under development to take full advantage of the individual benefits of the two control modes mentioned above.

B- Operating Modes

Because various kinds of TOL modes and types of wings exist, flying cars can be endowed with different operating modes, such as airplane, helicopter, and hybrid modes.

Airplane Mode

1- Helicopter Mode

2- Hybrid Mode

There are some other hybrid modes that combine the advantages of individual operating modes.

a- Helicopter-car mode:

b- Helicopter-airplane mode:

c- Airplane-car mode:

Depending on the application purposes, different power types for flying cars are being used: electric power, hydrocarbon fuel, and hybrid power.

Advanced air mobility is an emerging industry that includes around 250 companies that are seeking to build electric flying vehicles as well as the infrastructure to use them in cities around the world. There has been extensive progress in the field because of several recent trends, such as the growth of on-demand services, a greater focus on sustainability, and the increased availability of funding. While the cost of advanced air mobility makes it most feasible for business travelers, the goal is to make it available to average consumers at some future point.

However, the industry have to address several challenges, the most pressing of which relates to infrastructure. Advanced air mobility also requires high levels of electricity, and this should ideally come from renewable sources to promote sustainability. It will require a significant amount of skilled labor, as well as the right regulatory systems.

In this whole scenario infrastructure is a biggest challenge. The initial use cases will have to take advantage of existing infrastructure, such as helipads and airports. Therefore airport transfers will likely be one of the first real use cases. Also there would be more demand for electrical infrastructure, as these machines will need a lot of energy at really high power levels.

The other two challenges would be public acceptance and getting the right regulatory systems in place.

In the next 10 years, we will have hundreds of these flying in a given big city. But may or may not be they would be reasonable alternative to buses, cars, or rail in that time period. It will be primarily for business travelers and high-net-worth individuals in the beginning. But we hope to eventually help clients figure out how to scale to serve a much broader customer base.

The visionary entrepreneur Elon Musk, who is co-founder of PayPal, SpaceX, Neuralink, The Boring Company and CEO of Tesla had a different version. He had founded different companies that are trying to define the future of transportation with electric vehicles, space exploration, and tunnels that would house high-speed transit systems. His biggest concerns are noise and the potential for a broken part to fall and hit someone on the ground. He believes it’s better to address traffic congestion by building high-speed, underground transit systems like Loop and Hyperloop rather than flying cars.

[box type=”note” align=”” class=”” width=””]The author, Nazir Ahmed Shaikh, is a freelance columnist. He is an academician by profession and writes articles on diversified topics. Mr. Shaikh could be reached at[/box]

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