One thing that said science fiction and the future to me more than anything was the wonder of flying cars. As a small tot I would dream about some distant remote future… maybe even my own where flying cars would zip across the skies like metal birds, darting and dipping between buildings.
This will never happen now and I am, from a science fiction PoV – gutted. I wanted so much those Golden Age vehicles to zip and woosh across my skies and the driver/pilot to wave with a cheery smile, but I realise now this/that future will never happen.
And the reason…
Power Source: I am no expert but the output needed to lift these little future wonders will be so staggering to the point a totally new power source will be needed. We seem transfixed with electricity and well into the future. Yes, we have all seen those little hydrogen experiments but honestly… is that ever going to happen.
A Safety/Red Tape/Insurance nightmare. These issues would spoil any flight plan before our future selves could utter the immortal words “Chocks away”.
Life Expectancy: To some degree we have protection if our little ground hugging cars have a bump, but falling out the sky poses slightly more problems to those boffins at Euro ENCAP HQ.
The cost in time alone (forget the financial) would be staggering but the main reason why we won’t see flying cars ever is not long from now we will be digitised, transferred and uploaded to some World Wide Webtastic Universe… and well, if I can’t have my flying cars – I guess this will be the next best thing!
I want flying cars. I WILL HAVE FLYING CARS.
I hate you. I HATE YOU.
I have changed my mind about this over the last couple of years.
I always thought it would never happen because of the 2nd of your reasons (Insurance, basically).
But now I think it’s gonna happen, and sooner than we expect.
I think quadcopter-with-thrust hybrids like the http://matternet.us/ crew plan to develop in the longer term will solve the power-to-weight-ratio issues for small personalised transport.
I think the insurance/red tape issues will be solved by hardly ever allowing anyone to fly them manually (you’ll log your destination, and the thing will fly itself there under the control of centralised air traffic control).
Most quadcopters can land (with a bump, but land) even if 2 diagonally opposite rotors fail, so if they’re programmed to head down as soon as there’s a single fault, and there’s a massive parachute as secondary backup, I can see safety being as good as groundcars now.
When they digitise and upload me, I want to be hosted in a raspberry Pi descendant, slung under a solar powered quadcopter that never lands.