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‘Dozens’ of Companies are Now Trying to Build Flying Cars

The New York Times shares footage from a flying car’s test flight in California — “a single-person aircraft for use in rural areas — essentially a private flying car for the rich — that could start selling this year.” (You can read the text of the article here.)

“It may look like a strange beast, but it will change the way transportation happens,” they’re told by Marcus Leng, the Canadian inventor who designed the aircraft (which he named BlackFly):

BlackFly is what is often called a flying car. Engineers and entrepreneurs like Mr. Leng have spent more than a decade nurturing this new breed of aircraft, electric vehicles that can take off and land without a runway. They believe these vehicles will be cheaper and safer than helicopters, providing practically anyone with the means of speeding above crowded streets. “Our dream is to free the world from traffic,” said Sebastian Thrun, another engineer at the heart of this movement.

That dream, most experts agree, is a long way from reality. But the idea is gathering steam. Dozens of companies are now building these aircraft, and three recently agreed to go public in deals that value them as high as $6 billion. For years, people like Mr. Leng and Mr. Thrun have kept their prototypes hidden from the rest of the world — few people have seen them, much less flown in them — but they are now beginning to lift the curtain…

Others are building larger vehicles they hope to deploy as city air taxis as soon as 2024 — an Uber for the skies. Some are designing vehicles that can fly without a pilot. One of the air taxi companies, Kitty Hawk, is run by Mr. Thrun, the Stanford University computer science professor who founded Google’s self-driving car project. He now says that autonomy will be far more powerful in the air than on the ground, and that it will enter our daily lives much sooner. “You can fly in a straight line and you don’t have the massive weight or the stop-and-go of a car” on the ground, he said…

The next few years will be crucial to the industry as it transitions from what Silicon Valley is known for — building cutting-edge technology — to something much harder: the messy details of actually getting it into the world.


Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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