For some reason, science fiction writers have for decades envisioned a future full of flying cars. Well, here we are in 2018 and we’re still stuck on the stinking ground like lowly cavepeople. Where are our flying cars and jetpacks? If 2018 isn’t the future, I don’t know what is. Unfortunately, there are still some pretty difficult barriers to overcome before we’re all zooming around like the Jetsons, but they haven’t stopped aerospace firms from designing and testing prototype flying cars anyway, likely for the fun of it. In what sounds like true news from the future, aerospace giant Airbus announced this week that its long-awaited flying car concept has successfully completed its first real flight test. Looks like Blade Runner might not have been too many years off after all.
Airbus calls its flying car the Vahana. The ‘car’ can take off and land vertically and is powered by all-electric motors. Airbus intends the vehicle to fly at speeds up to four times greater than road traffic and have a range of fifty miles. For the Vahana’s first flight test, the aircraft took off and rose to an altitude of 5 meters (16 feet) before landing safely after 53 seconds. The following day, the aircraft performed the same test again successfully. While it might not sound like much, consider that many of the Wright brothers’ first flights were under a minute as well.
In a press release, Vahana Project executive Zach Lovering says the successful flight test demonstrates that flying cars might not be merely a sci-fi pipe dream after all:
Today we are celebrating a great accomplishment in aerospace innovation. In just under two years, Vahana took a concept sketch on a napkin and built a full-scale, self-piloted aircraft that has successfully completed its first flight.
Before you get too excited about taking one of the Vahanas for a spin in the next few years, note that the Vahana, in the biggest disappointment of all, is self-piloted. So much for the future being fun.