Jetsons, 2017
March 15, 2015 7:42 PM   Subscribe

 
Worth noting: there are already flying lawnmowers. Well, hovering, anyway.
posted by gingerest at 7:51 PM on March 15, 2015


Who's the target market here? Rich assholes?

Then they will do just fine. There's plenty of those fuckers around.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:55 PM on March 15, 2015


Hovermowers? That's just an astonishingly stupid idea.

Hill? There goes a foot. Lose your balance? Foot. Trip? Hand. Maybe face. All depends on which way the wind blows, because it's hovering.

Dumber than a motion-activated blender.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:00 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Only five more years…
posted by wotsac at 8:00 PM on March 15, 2015


For fuck's sake, keep these out of Boston. We can not be trusted with three dimensions of driving responsibility.
posted by maryr at 8:10 PM on March 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ironic maryr as the Terrafugia project is based out of Woburn.

But, anyone who reads this as that the airplane will be available in two years doesn't understand the nature of aviation press and new product launches. I'm betting that airplane, if it ever becomes available, will be closer to 2027 than 2017.
posted by meinvt at 8:21 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Google will be all over this and create self-driving and self-flying vehicles.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:22 PM on March 15, 2015


Hovermowers? That's just an astonishingly stupid idea.

Dumber than a motion-activated blender.
Your concern is about 50 years too late...
posted by Pinback at 8:35 PM on March 15, 2015


Oh lord, not this again.

sighs, dusts off old folder

Let's talk about the difficulty that a substantial portion of the driving community has in dealing with two-dimensional traffic, then consider the massive clusterfuck that would result from the same number and type of people operating in a 3D space.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:45 PM on March 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, you want flying cars? Well grow up and invest in light rail. We plebs will still be stranded while these assholes are flying their dumb modular planes to their third homes.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:48 PM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


These flying car "just around the corner!" news snippets pop up pretty regularly now. But to think these things are anything other than the hobby of a handful of rich folks is living a fantasy. The technology for a flying cars has been around for decades, in various forms. Most never seem to get past the prototype stage, though.

I'll go on record: I don't want flying cars. Tens of thousands of people die every year with the standard kind, so why does anyone think Joe Sixpack would be able to handle flying an airplane? To say nothing of the logistics of landing strips here there and everywhere.

Now get off my lawn.
posted by zardoz at 8:50 PM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


3D space is (literally!) infinitely larger than 2D space.

And a road network doesn't really even count as a 2D space.
posted by Hatashran at 9:03 PM on March 15, 2015


Your concern is about 50 years too late...

Seriously. I remember using a Flymo a good 20 years ago to mow the (immaculate) lawn of a great-uncle who drove British tanks in North Africa in WWII. Excellent cook and gracious host, but even then probably not a man who was on the cutting edge of grass-shortening technology.

No hills, and amazingly I kept all my feet.
posted by figurant at 9:09 PM on March 15, 2015


Want flying cars? Buy a helicopter.

Really, people.
posted by solarion at 9:42 PM on March 15, 2015


I'd always assumed flymos must suck, because I haven't seen one since the 80s. That said: I'm not exactly a lawn-care enthusiast.
posted by pompomtom at 9:52 PM on March 15, 2015


It's not that I don't want to buy a flying car. It's that I don't want to live in a world where the fucking idiots I have to drive on roads with now have the ability to plummet out of the sky.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:59 PM on March 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm no Luddite, but this is a terrible idea. I've seen my local Costco parking lot on a typical Sunday. There's no way I'm voluntarily giving people who drive like that -- which is to day, y'know, everyone -- another dimension to clusterfuck around with. People can't handle two.
posted by mosk at 10:13 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


He is intelligent, but not experienced. His pattern indicates two-dimensional thinking...
posted by Naberius at 10:21 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's not a flying car, it's a driving plane.

if it has wings it doesn't count. It has to at least roughly look like a car.

(Yes, I realize that "no wings" rules out Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I'm okay with that)
posted by aubilenon at 10:25 PM on March 15, 2015


Who's the target market here? Rich assholes?

Then they will do just fine. There's plenty of those fuckers around.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:55 PM on March 15


Not for long... I wonder how long it'll be before the inevitable story of a tech CEO or some other captain of industry obliterating themselves on the side of a mountain or leaving a 2 mile long smear across the treetops of a national park. This thing is going to be like catnip for people with more money than brains.

Want flying cars? Buy a helicopter.
"Hawk, get away from that thing, just get away from it."

I'm telling ya...
posted by mcrandello at 10:31 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


May I direct you to the small episode of The Dollop (a "smollop," if you will) about the flying car made out of a Pinto. Available on iTunes or Libsyn. How did it work? Hint: it was made out of a Pinto.

In any case, this is a horrible idea and there's a reason why learning to fly a plane is really goddamn expensive.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:54 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyone with a toddler who is obsessed with the Planes movies knows the Germans already tried this and no one wanted them. They end up being not great cars and not great planes, and not useful to basically anybody.
posted by annekate at 10:55 PM on March 15, 2015


"Hawk, get away from that thing, just get away from it."

Worst episode of Airwolf ever....
posted by Naberius at 11:11 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not for long... I wonder how long it'll be before the inevitable story of a tech CEO or some other captain of industry obliterating themselves on the side of a mountain or leaving a 2 mile long smear across the treetops of a national park. This thing is going to be like catnip for people with more money than brains.

Sure, but don't they already do that with light aircraft today?
posted by BungaDunga at 11:24 PM on March 15, 2015


Aaaand yet another newspaper falls for the press release of the latest vapourware aircar enthusiast, to be spread through all nerd circles on the interwebs, greeted there by cries of interest by the young and naive and groans of oh bloody hell not this again by the people with a memory span of more than six months, when the last cycle started.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:35 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


From our 'Here we go again' Dept. Next week:videophones.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:13 AM on March 16, 2015


The only hope I have for flying cars becoming somehow common and useful and safe is that, given how long they've taken to materialize, if we just wait a few more years, there'll probably prototypes that are largely self-piloting, like the Google car, and there's a chance that, unlike normal cars, the only flying cars that would be legal would have to be self-piloting from the start. Since there's really no legacy, manual flying cars to consider (airplanes and helicopters are in a different class, and generally use higher altitudes), it shouldn't be that hard to get this into law. At worst, you could have "manual" control that was just a high-level "I want to go over there" input to the automatic system, which it would be free to disregard or alter for safety reasons.

It also seems to me that making a self-piloting flying car is probably easier to implement than a self-driving normal car, especially if it only has to interact with other self-piloting flying cars. There are no pedestrians, fewer obstacles in general, and you have a third dimension you can use for obstacle avoidance (cue the need for an open-source obstacle avoidance algorithm that everyone needs to follow by law).
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:20 AM on March 16, 2015


GallonOfAlan: "From our 'Here we go again' Dept. Next week:videophones."

I use Skype a lot, about 30% of the time with video (and even if I don't turn my camera on, a lot of the people I talk to leave theirs on by default). So that one could be said to have already happened.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:21 AM on March 16, 2015


"Hawk, get away from that thing, just get away from it."

And there's the thing; I don't see flying cars realistically being much better with control schemes.
posted by solarion at 2:38 AM on March 16, 2015


There doesn't seem to be very much travel in the suspension, so a heavy landing on the front wheels would presumably impact the fuselage with presumably not great long- or short-term results.
posted by srednivashtar at 3:00 AM on March 16, 2015


Flying cars are like mainstream Linux on the desktop. Always a year away.
posted by cvp at 3:24 AM on March 16, 2015


I'll go on record: I don't want flying cars. . .
posted by zardoz


Oh, but flying giant stone heads are A-OK?
 
posted by Herodios at 4:15 AM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


To put this in perspective, we've been promised flying horses for 2500 years.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:17 AM on March 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


If you skip instead of step, you fly one third of the way.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:44 AM on March 16, 2015


Flying cars won't be mainstream until they're completely autonomous.
posted by Abon Sapi at 5:13 AM on March 16, 2015


Let's talk about the difficulty that a substantial portion of the driving community has in dealing with two-dimensional traffic, then consider the massive clusterfuck that would result from the same number and type of people operating in a 3D space.

Flying cars will never be viable for mass transport. They'll just be slightly more convenient for the people that use light aircraft for transportation now. It just doesn't make sense to get off the ground for short trips (ie less than 50 miles) from an energy perspective alone. Take off and approach paths and wing folding time will just make it as fast to drive it.

I maintain that the only significant progress we will make in road safety progress and congestion is to make autonomous cars genuinely viable - where you get in, programme your destination like a GPS and sit back and let it take you there - and then *massively* increase the requirements to have an actual driving license. The requirements to be allowed to control 4 tonnes of vehicle are so ridiculously low (especially in the US) that roads will never be safe while the people that are being catered to by dropping the license requirements down that far are put into something smarter than they are.

Once you have moved 60-75% (or more) of the population into self-driving vehicles (that would not need to be so heavy because accidents would be rarer so less energy intensive) then traffic could be more efficient (denser) and mean that people get where they want easier and faster. Separate lanes will mean that people who want to drive for the fun of it keep away from the efficient transport and driving becomes fun again.

Basically, until the cross over between mass transport (efficiency) and the convenience aspect (the initial and terminal 2-3 miles covered) is achieved the roads will always be a mess. I like the idea of autonomous pods that link up when they get to the highways like little trains for the longer trips and then separate and reattach to another train when they change highways, only travelling individually right at the end or beginning of each trip.
posted by Brockles at 5:19 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


If there are flying cars, then Home Depot will be selling Anti Aircraft Artillery for the home.

See, it's not so much the quality of piloting that worries me -- although, lordy, that frankly scares me to death. Look at the number of breakdowns that happen in cars.

That happens at 500' AGL, and your breakdown has a much more dramatic DOWN component to it. And, you know, if you're over my place, well, we have a problem. We, as opposed to you.

I don't want aircars falling on my building, and if they become common? They will be falling on buildings. Therefore, they won't become common, not so long as they are piloted and maintained by Joe Anybody.

There's a real reason that commercial airlines have both certified pilots *and* certified maintenance people who keep full maintenance logs, and how minor issues with those logs can result in a fleet being grounded until those checks are done (see AA MD80s in 2009 or WN 737s a couple of years ago.)
posted by eriko at 5:25 AM on March 16, 2015


Until the aquatic car is a thing again, I won't be happy.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:35 AM on March 16, 2015


Who cares about flying cars? I want a flying dress! Who's got one?! Lady Gaga, that's who!
posted by chavenet at 7:17 AM on March 16, 2015


Yeah...no. It's not going to happen. Like the FAA is going to say "Oh right, it's a Flying Car(tm), not an airplane, the rules don't apply!"

Nope, the FAA is going to treat this like a light airplane, which means the users are going to need pilots licenses. That alone will keep this thing out of the hands of most people. Likewise, the FAA is so conservative that people are still flying 50 year-old plane designs, so I don't see something I'd a radical design being approved quickly.

SO not going to happen.
posted by happyroach at 7:19 AM on March 16, 2015


I saw the link and just thought "Please don't be another Moller Skycar Press Release." It isn't but flying cars and fusion power both always seem to be 10 years away, just like they were 10 years ago.
posted by Badgermann at 7:49 AM on March 16, 2015


The Moller Sky Car is one of the guiding stars of the ridiculous scammyness that seems to be part of general aviation. I'm always reading about some sociopath "rebuilding" an engine with a pencil or running a charter business with student pilots, its weird for such an uptight culture as aviation to have such sleazy operators. Point is I'll believe it when I see it.

There have already been a few "flying cars" one of the nicest was(is) the Aerocar, designed by Molt Taylor. There is also the PAL-5 gyrocopter and the thing from MIT the Terrafugia.

Aside from the Aerocar, which was at its heart a democratic idea,(save on hangar rent!,) the thing I don't like about having drivable aircraft on the roads is it seems akin to ridding around with Ming vases strapped to your car just waiting to sue who ever bumps into you.
posted by Pembquist at 8:24 AM on March 16, 2015


Disclaimer: Terrafugia was founded by a couple of friends of mine.

I think it's important to take a close look at the actual use cases for these things -- I know in Terrafugia's case that they have been super-clear about saying that the idea is to be able to drive to a small airport, take off from there, and land at another small airport. One particular case they're aiming for is having a planned flight that would take you out of your rating (eg, you can't go where you want because the weather it bad there and you're not qualified). In theory you could fly anyway, stop one airport short of your destination, and drive the rest of the way. That's a pretty limited use case that apparently is enticing for some pilots. But they lay out these specific cases and reporters immediately say "Jetsons! Flying cars!" when it's basically an airplane you happen to be able to drive to the airport.

What's much much more interesting to me is repair and maintenance. In order to have a certified-for-flight airplane you need to have work done by an honest-to-god airplane mechanic. I have to imagine that includes getting dinged by someone parking next to you, especially since some of those are active flight surfaces...
posted by range at 9:29 AM on March 16, 2015


Flying cars are like mainstream Linux on the desktop.

I wish they were... I've had linux on my desktop since 1996. Didn't cost me anything, uses very little gasoline or jet fuel, required slightly less training than it takes to get a pilot's license, and it hardly ever crashes.
posted by sfenders at 10:35 AM on March 16, 2015


As a private-pilot dropout, I can tell you that flying cars for the general public will never, ever work. Flying can be easy, but when it's difficult, it's very difficult, and there is little margin for error.

This thing is just a neat looking plane that you can drive home and park in your garage, rather than store in a hanger. It will still require runways, a trained pilot, annual inspections, and everything else that goes with owning and operating a light aircraft.

Also, what's the deal with the video in that article? Out of context shots of people working... Odd music that fades in and out for no reason... Weird.
posted by Fleeno at 2:21 PM on March 16, 2015




These new flying mounts are going to ruin PVP.
posted by ostranenie at 9:53 PM on March 17, 2015


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