We Should Have Flying Cars

Imagine the broad spectrum innovation that would result from the development of flying cars. The creativity sparked by competition in a market for flying cars would surpass that of any previous human endeavor – including the space race. However …

Flying cars are impossible – but not for the reasons you think.

We could have flying cars today – if only the government would let us.

The free market could solve any concerns about flying cars – if only the government would let it.

If we had a free market, then we would already be flying in cars, and it would be safe, and … fabulous.

Even in a free market, it is probable that manufacturers would try to make the first generation of flying cars crash proof because it would be so easy.

Even first generation flying cars would sense an approaching object and avoid it, just as they could sense a stationary object and slow down. Flying cars would also have computers that would communicate continuously with all surrounding cars in the air to avoid collisions, and just as flying cars could communicate with each other, stationary structures could have transponders that communicate with surrounding cars for an additional layer of safety to make collisions impossible. Even if the driver tried, he could not hit another object while flying.

Because flying cars could automatically communicate with each other, and because they would be running the latest microprocessors, they could easily negotiate a route with each other while the driver reads or even sleeps!

Needless to say, flying cars could automatically park themselves, and roof top parking could reclaim unused rooftop space.

Flying cars don’t need helicopter blades, so they could be small like regular cars while avoiding the dangers of rotating blades. Instead, they could have a small jet engine that sucks air in from the top and vectors it through exhaust valves that could be widened or narrowed while directing thrust down, up, forward, back, or to either side.

Flying cars would be more fuel efficient than you think. For example, they don’t need to fly at 35,000 feet because there is no reason they couldn’t fly 10 feet above ground objects. Also, they could take a straighter and thus shorter route. They would never have to sit in rush hour or wait for an accident or a fallen tree to be cleared. There would be no more stop and go from rush hours or stop lights.

Flying shuttles, busses, and ferries would be possible.

The increase in fuel per commuter would be more than offset by increases in our time and happiness.

Yesterday, I imagined living on Brisbane Island and commuting to Seattle. Each day I would have to drive to the ferry, take the ferry across Puget Sound, and then take a bus to my job for a total one way commute of one hour and 20 minutes; whereas, in a flying car, I could just skim over Puget Sound for a total one way commute of 15 minutes.

I was excited. Within minutes, I realized the technical feasibility and I had worked out the details, but then after a few more minutes of analysis, I realized why the dream of flying cars is impossible in America.

First generation flying cars would be very expensive and less than perfect – just like the first generation of automobiles, and without that first generation of technology, there would never be a second generation, which would become known as the model T of flying cars.

The first generation of flying cars is impossible in America because of millions of pages of regulations, a hostile media, and millions of potential lawsuits, but note that I said flying cars are impossible in America; whereas, countries like China or Russia who are not entangled by millions of pages of regulations and who are not strangled by more than one million lawyers … could have flying cars before America.

Of course, flying cars are not likely in China or Russia either because the Chinese and Russian governments fear their own people, but then again, the American government also fears its own people.

The political class is certain that millions of drivers of flying cars would try to crash into people, buildings, or other vehicles; while ignoring the fact that drivers of regular cars don’t do that. The political class probably has nightmares where hoards of angry voters descend on DC in their flying cars to overthrow the government. Not only would the political class never allow the people to pilot flying cars, I’m amazed they still let us drive traditional cars.

Two more reasons the political class would never let the first generation of flying cars off the ground are because they would be less than 100% safe and would be very expensive, and would thus be unacceptable to the political class.

The first generation of flying cars may not be 100% safe for their owners, but their owners would know that, and after all, it’s their life isn’t it? Nevertheless, anything less than 100% safety is unacceptable to the political class, but not because they care about our safety. Safety is just a pretext to grab more power.

Perhaps not so obvious is the affirmative action angle. Consider that at first, only rich people could afford flying cars. Imagine how jealous everyone else would be. Now consider that the initial pilots of flying cars who are making the rest of us so jealous would primarily be rich white people. In our progressive culture of entitlement, politicians could not resist the political pressure to stop such inequality, but not because they care about equal results. Equal results, also known as social justice, is just a pretext to grab more power.

Why would a savvy entrepreneur or investor even try?

Of course, if government ever allowed a free market again, then the proverbial two guys in garage could build the first flying car, but given the current labyrinth of regulations, the predictable campaign by the mainstream media against flying cars, and the inevitable deluge of lawsuits; only a few companies or venture capitalists would have the wealth and the political connections to try, but why would they?

Consider that those companies and venture capitalists with the wealth and political connections to navigate the regulations, media, and lawsuits would have to spend 11 billion dollars to get the first flying car off the assembly line. Now consider that the from day one through the whole ten year development cycle, they would have to spend 1 billion dollars to lobby the media and the government while spending ten billion dollars to get the first flying car off the assembly line. Then, after ten years, they would discover that the government is just not going to let them sell flying cars to the public – ever. These wealthy insiders already know this, or else they would have already tried.

Like I already said, the political class fears the people.

The only scenario under which the political class would allow flying cars is if they could only take off and land from a few well guarded facilities, and where they were monitored and controlled by air traffic controllers who could remotely take control of any flying car. They would also insist on the ability to remotely shut down or destroy any flying car as well as the ability to shut down all flying cars instantly – just like they want the ability to shut down the entire Internet instantly.

The conditions under which the political class would find flying cars acceptable would make them way less practical than they could be and far more expensive than necessary. Therefore, they would not be a profitable product, and wealthy insiders already know this, or else they would have already tried.


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 9 comments
Dennis Gorelik - May 21, 2011

In what way does the government prevent creation of flying cars?

Jim - May 22, 2011

I am an architect, so I just want to design paradigm breaking solutions, and I would like for people to understand that government directly and indirectly inhibits the development of my paradigm breaking solutions.

Therefore, I am willing to identify the high level ways in which government directly and indirectly inhibits the development of flying cars, although haven't even mentioned unions and government schools yet, but if you want to know more about regulations, Google "regulations Brian Doherty".

If you want to actually develop a flying car, you would need to hire an extensive (and expensive) team of attorneys to study law, regulation, and legal precedent for a year, and another team to lobby federal, state, and local governments for a decade. (Bribes help a lot.)

If you want to become a regulation expert yourself, then good luck with that – but I think I would rather die.

Dennis Gorelik - May 22, 2011

If you invented flying car and made a prototype – there would be plenty of investors willing to finance all necessary lobbying alongside with financing all other activities required for building viable business.
But nobody invented flying car yet.

Government stifles innovation, but government is definitely not the #1 obstacle on the path to inventing flying car.

Jim - May 22, 2011

After you spent the ten years and 20 million dollars on legal research and lobbying and 100 million dollars on an overly complex design and an overly complex and expensive development process – all to try to achieve the best chance to overcome all technical and legal issues, what you would discover is that the government is not going to let you market a flying car anyway.

Jim - May 22, 2011

If the government would allow flying cars, then any one of dozens of large companies or dozens of venture capitalists would make it happen – and that is assuming typical heavy regulation and lawsuits. However, if government also deregulated, then the proverbial two guys in a garage could also build one.

Dennis Gorelik - May 22, 2011

How do you know that government will not let me market flying car?
If airplanes can be marketed, then flying cars can be marketed too.

Jim - May 22, 2011

Flying cars are different than private planes and helicopters in two big ways: Flying cars would be far more common and would be far more difficult for the government to control. Flying cars don't need runways, air traffic controllers, or TSA; and they are not limited to airports.

The government will not let you market a real flying car because the government fears the people. If the government did exert enough control to make the political class to feel no threat from the people, then that would make flying cars far less useful and yet far more expensive. Even then, the government would want a kill switch they could use to remotely pilot, shut down, or destroy any or even all fyling cars.

Dennis Gorelik - May 23, 2011

What's your proof that government fears people?
Please don't forget that government itself consists of people.

kathy - June 1, 2011

I am with this post. I could not imagine flying cars accident, it would be a lot more fatal, and the damage is unimaginable. I fear flying cars! It's terrible though I would love to see a terrafugia flying around.


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